Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 22, 2020

Odd number of finches


Hi.
I had a pair of zebra finches, one male and the other female who got on well. Unfortunately, after laying their first clutch of eggs, the hen died. The male went into a depression so, I got him another female companion. They were also immediately compatible soon enough she also died and the male finch got depressed again…amidst the lockdown,we had to wait five weeks before we got another companion for the male. This time we got two males and their were three male finches in the same cage…the older bird got on with one of the new birds well enough although the pair of them began to attack the other new bird. I’ve managed to separate them and they’re now giving fine,but I would like for them to be in the same cage. their cage is quite big and can house up to eight finches with space to spare. So housing is not an issue, there are two water bins and a large food tray and two very long perches, two swings and a spiral bead perch and three bells. What must I do?


Answer:

Hi Dia,

It can be very tricky to house birds together. What we view as a large cage, may barely be what they consider to be enough territory. And you should always have as many food and water dishes as birds, because each bird may claim a food or water bowl and prevent the other birds from accessing it. I never recommend having an odd number of birds in the same cage. Even same sex birds will form a bond and behave as a pair, which includes territorial behavior and keeping rivals away. If you want to try to have a cage of male finches, you will need to get another bird to hopefully bond with the odd bird. These birds do not need nests or anything they can use as a nest – they will sleep on a perch. Wild birds only use their nests during breeding season and when the chicks fly away, the nest is abandoned. So the presence of nests will trigger hormonal and territorial behavior in the birds and cause fighting. If you do add a fourth male bird, there is still no guarantee that they can all share a cage, but without nests, with an even number of birds, and with enough food and water stations, there is a better chance of them all living together. Do not start introducing females because even without nests, they will be much more territorial with females around.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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