Ask Lafeber


January 11, 2021

Zebra Finches Depressed?

I have adopted 3 Zebra finches about a week a go. So I know they are still getting use to their surrounding. But I sit with them all day as I am in Home office, and watch their behaviors. They sit in their nest most days and only get up to fly to their food, and rarely some water. I understand that these are social birds and playful, but all they do is eat and sleep. They at least sleep through the whole night. But I have toys with bells, bath house, dust bath ground, and grass on the bottom of the cage for seeking and foraging. Plus fruit sticks at a treat and millet spray, which all of these things they dont touch. Only nest, a few perches, and daily bird seed. They also will not eat any fresh fruits and vegatables.
The birds are about 8 weeks old, so I understand this comes in time, but would like to know if I am doing something wrong. Or if they are showing signs of depression as I live in a very grey and rainy part of the world.
Thank you! Any advice is good!


Hi Chandler,

I think mainly these birds need time to settle in. They are very young and probably very scared. One thing you need to to is remove the nest. They do not need a nest unless they are breeding, and they are much too young for that. Adult birds do not need a nest to sleep in – in the wild a nest is only used during breeding season. Also, having three birds in a cage, you never want to give them a nest because you can’t have an extra bird in the cage when you are breeding birds. If these birds are all the same sex, that is ideal. But even so, you need to watch them as they get older, because two birds are likely to form a bond and leave the extra bird out. In general, it is not a good idea to have an odd number of birds sharing a cage, and you definitely can’t have more than one pair in a cage for breeding. I’m also not sure about having the grass on the cage floor, because this may trigger their hormones and cause nesting behavior and territorial behavior. In order to keep the peace with 3 birds in the same cage, you need to avoid hormone and nesting triggers, so no nests and no nesting material. And if these birds are related, you can never let them breed and hatch eggs. They will eventually settle in and become more active. While you should not change their diet right away, you should consider converting them to a finch pellet or granule. Loose seed mixes do not provide much in the way of nutrition. If the seeds are coated with vitamins, they are lost when the bird removes the hull from the seeds. As to the fresh foods, they are not likely to eat fruits, but most finches will learn to eat chopped veggies and leafy greens. Broccoli florets are popular. Just keep offering these foods, as it can take time for them to learn to eat them and most owners give up too soon. I think once you remove the nest and they have time to settle in a explore, they will start being active and more playful.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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