Zebra Finches


Native to Australia, the Zebra Finch
is one of the most commonly held
cage birds among exotic finches
because it is one of the easiest birds to
house and feed and is ideal for the
beginning bird keeper.
Once you have decided to keep
Zebra Finches, you need to select perfect
specimens. Choose birds from a
reliable breeder and observe if your
birds are alert, lively, sleek feathered
and plump.
Whether you choose one Zebra
Finch, or a pair, you will want to
determine the sex of your birds. Zebra
Finches are sexually dimorphic; that is,
males and females look differently
from one another in all the color varieties
except the white mutation. Even
whites can usually be sexed by the
male's redder beak.
Male zebras are easily distinguished
from females by their distinctive
orange-red ear spots, while the
female's head is plain gray. Both male
and female are silver gray with black
and white crossbarring on the tail,
hence their name "zebra". In raising
Zebra Finches many mutations will
occur - black and white mixtures, 

even gray or fawn colors.
Zebra Finches will breed inside the
house in flight cages that are at least
three feet long. They like to bLJild their
nests in wooden finch boxes or rattan
baskets and need soft, dry grass, moss
and bits of yarn or string for nest
building. They find lint from the
clothes dryer very acceptable nesting
material. Your cages should not have
wire flooring because finches like to
eat off the floor. Do not place cages in
drafts or direct sunshine.
If you decide on an outside aviary,
you may want to build your own.
Modular welded wire with a square
steel post framework can be used for
your bird house. These modular units
can be easily and quickly constructed.
You may want to consider building
your bird house using plywood and
wire. We have two such avaries in our
back patio, each is four feet square by
eight feet high. They are constructed
of four by eight sheets of quarter-inch
plywood for sides and sloping roof
and half-inch plywood for the floor.
Before construction began, all wooden
materials were given two coats of
white paint.

We used non-toxic half-inch welded
wire, a few two by fours split to two
by twos, a little roofing paper, clear
plastic sheeting for a fold-down window
cover, and with a handful of nails
and hinges we made a suitable outside
home for our Zebras. Leave
plenty of window openings covered
with wire with fold-down frames covered
with plastic sheeting. This plastic
panel can be hinged and raised at
night for protection from cold, winds
and cats. Perches were made of various
sized branches from our mock
mulberry tree.
The bird house should face south or
southeast if at all possible, and some
shade should be provided: Our bird
house can be easily moved; simply
nail a two by four on each side at
about hand height and four men can
easily pick it up and move it to a new
location. This is particularly advantageous
if you live on rented property
and wish to move.
Should you want a second four-foot
square bird house, reverse your floor
plan, set the houses side by side leaving
a small safety area between the
houses with the food and "people"
door inside the safety area. Add a roof
and a few shelves for food storage and
you will have a very practical and useful
bird house.
My Zebras feed on finch seed, spray
millet, boiled egg, cuttle bone, and
cooked grains. I cook cracked corn (3
parts), milo (1 part) and reel wheat (1
part) in my crock pot overnight. Next
clay the food is rinsed, put in plastic
containers and refrigerated. I feed
one-fourth cup of cooked food per
clay, or only as much as they clean up.
Each clay they are feel a sprig of celery,
chopped apple, orange or any other
fruit they will eat. In aclclition, they are
offered a small bowl of Petamine.
During breeding season they are feel
small mealworms.
Zebras lay four to six white eggs at
daily intervals. The incubation period
is about 14 clays with the female sitting
on the eggs at night. After hatching,
both parents feed the young. The
babies leave the nest at about three to
four weeks of age.
A vail yourself of the many fine
books and periodicals regarding
finches. Join a bird club, listen to lectures
on birds and talk with experienced
finch breeders.
Finches can be ideal pets. Enjoy