Finches need room to fly in their cages. The finch owner should make sure that the finch cage is large enough to allow the finches plenty of room for flying. A finch cage should be wider than it is tall and provide ample room for flying from one perch to another. Be sure the openings of the bars are small enough that they will not allow the finches to escape or become caught in between the bars. Finches need the company of other finches and in some cases, different species of the same size and temperament can be housed together. Finches do not like to be handled.
Finches can adapt to average household temperatures but beware of dramatic changes. The cage should be placed off of the ground and away from drafts, including open windows, doors and air vents.
Three perches of varying widths are the minimum number of perches you need per finch in the cage but don’t over crowd it. Giving your bird perches of different sizes, textures and shapes will exercise their feet and keep them healthy and strong. All perches should be wide enough that your bird can comfortably and easily maintain his or her balance while perched or walking.
Finches seem to enjoy having nests to go in and out of. If you provide them with a nest make sure the nest is NOT a size used for breeding unless you are interested in encouraging your finches to reproduce. Finches are busy little birds and seem to enjoy flying from one nest to another. If you notice a finch being protective of a particular nest you may wish to change the size of your nest to help discourage breeding.
You may want to purchase a smaller cage for sleeping in a quiet room or if the cage is already in a quiet room get a cage cover to let the bird sleep at night. If a bird is kept in a busy part of the household, even if the cage is covered at night, if the television or computer are still on the bird will not receive the proper rest that it needs to maintain good health. Using a small sleep cage that is situated in a quiet part of the home will be beneficial to the health of the bird.
Pellet foods and seed mixes work best. Finches can be very dependent on seeds but ideally a finch should eat more pellets than seed. Spray millet should be available at all times and an egg food should be added to the diet.
Fresh fruits and vegetables including carrots, lettuce, apples, oranges, and dandelion can be eaten by your bird. Citrus fruit should be limited to small amounts. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be discarded after a few hours. Never offer avocado, chocolate, meat products, milk products or alcohol. Three of these are toxic to birds in just small amounts: alcohol, avocado and chocolate. Never allow your bird to eat even a small amount of any of these items. Everything in moderation is the key to a well-rounded diet, any food item when fed in excessive amounts could be harmful to your bird.
Like other birds, finches require clean, fresh water daily to maintain optimum health.
Cuttlebones, mineral blocks or crushed eggshells can be used to add calcium. We recommend that you ask your vet before giving your bird a calcium supplement.
A bird that is eating a well-rounded diet should not need vitamin supplements. Please consult your avian vet for more information. If vitamins are used in the water you must make sure you clean and refill the water daily.
Grooming and Hygiene
Birds like to bathe, but different individuals prefer to bathe in different ways. Some like to bathe in a shallow dish, some like to be sprayed with a fine mist.
Clipping your finch’s feathers is not recommended as finches are flight animals that need to have free use of their wings to exercise properly. A finch is not the type of bird that normally appreciates human handling therefore it is not necessary for you to have the finches wings clipped.
Clean the cage, perches and toys daily with warm soapy water, use a non-toxic cleaner such as mild dish liquid and make sure the soap is rinsed off when you are finished cleaning.
Disinfect the cage and perches with bleach water regularly while keeping the bird in a separate room. Bleach fumes can kill your new pet. Allowing the cage to air dry in sunlight is a natural way to disinfect. Make sure the smell from the bleach is completely gone before you place your bird back inside the cage.
Replace worn or damaged toys and accessories as they can cause injuries. Rotate toys when your bird becomes disinterested in them but remember never to place an unfamiliar toy in the cage without first introducing it to the bird in a neutral location. Mirrors can be confusing for birds and are best introduced after the bird has bonded with their owner, as they will tend to bond to the bird in the mirror as opposed to their owner.
Behavior & Interaction
European goldfinches are very social birds who live peacefully in large groups. For this reason, they need a lot of social interaction with other birds in order to stay happy and healthy. It is best to keep at least two finches together. European goldfinches can be kept in colonial situations, as long as the enclosure is of appropriate size. They can also sometimes be kept with other types of finches, as long as the cage is large enough to allow the different birds to have their own territories and interact without conflict or too much competition. Please research all potential cage mates carefully to make sure that the birds will be likely to get along.
You should have toys in the cage to prevent boredom. Bored birds are known to have behavior problems. Birds need to be active to maintain good health and to prevent them from getting overweight. Foraging toys are excellent because they stimulate the natural avian instinct to search for food.
Toys should be changed regularly to keep your pet interested and if the toy becomes worn to prevent injury.
When you change toys for your bird or even move your bird to a new location in the house, please be aware of how sensitive most birds are to changes. Never place a new toy directly inside the cage without first allowing the bird to see and get used to the new toy in a neutral area outside the cage.
When taking your new bird home please remember that the surroundings in your home will be new to it and it may take some time for the bird to feel settled in their new environment. Speak softly and move very slowly whenever you are near the bird’s cage. Do not try to handle the bird for at least the first few days as the bird needs time to adjust to the new home.
With a well balanced diet you should not need to give your bird vitamin supplements. Before giving any supplements consult your avian vet. If you use supplements in the bird’s water, make sure you clean and wash the water dish daily to remove any residue from the supplements.
We recommend taking your bird to the vet for regular checkups and purchasing a book about your new pet.
We recommend using warm water and a mild soap solution for daily cleaning of your bird’s cage. Once a week remove the bird from the cage and use a diluted bleach solution to disinfect the cage. Rinse the cage thoroughly then place the cage in the sun to air dry if possible. Be certain the cage and bowls are completely free of any bleach smell prior to placing your bird back in the enclosure—bleach can be toxic to birds.
Keep the bird in a draft free area. Room temperature of 72° is normally good for most birds although we suggest researching your specific bird to determine the optimum temperature.
Always wash your hands before and after handling each animal.
Birds can be scared to death. Frightening a bird can cause the bird enough stress to harm and possibly kill it. Move slowly and talk quietly to your new bird until it is comfortable with you and its new home.
Vary your bird’s perches by type and sizes to keep his feet healthy and conditioned
We recommend using a cuttle bone or mineral block for your bird only if your avian vet recommends more calcium for your particular bird.
If you notice signs of illness it is very important to get to the vet promptly as most birds will hide illness until it is in an advanced stage. We recommend taking your bird to the vet BEFORE the bird ever becomes ill. Visiting your vet before the bird is ill will allow the vet to see your bird when it is healthy and help the vet create a routine preventive health care program for your new pet.
Signs of a Healthy Animal:
• Active, alert, and sociable
• Eats and drinks throughout the day
• Dry nostrils and bright, dry eyes
• Beak, legs, and feet appear normal
• Clean, dry vent
• Smooth, well-groomed feathers
• Beak swelling or accumulations
• Fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers especially around the vent
• Constant sitting on floor of cage
• Wheezing or coughing
• Runny or discolored stools
• Favoring one foot when not asleep— it is normal for birds to sleep on one foot
• Eye or nasal discharge
• Red or swollen eyes
• Loss of appetite
If feeding fruits the stool may become runny for a while. Many birds cannot tolerate too much acid that is in many citrus fruits, therefore we recommend limiting the amount of citrus you feed to your bird.
When changing the food your bird is given we would recommend doing so gradually so a sudden change does not upset your bird’s digestive system. We currently feed Kaytee™ seed and pellets along with many fresh fruits and vegetables to our birds.
Feeding Finches – Tips and Special Considerations
Breeding Zebra Finches
Finches – Sampling the Incredible Diversity of Species Available
Choosing the Best Cage for Canaries, Finches and other Small Birds
Breeding Finches in Captivity