You're in a pet store and find yourself
staring, fascinated by the activity
created by a group of brown and
white little birds in a little wire cage.
The longer you watch, the more you
convince yourself these would be
great little birds to add to your domestic
dwelling. Well, may I say- good
choice! And w ith a little care, these
small birds will bring you hours of
The Society (or Bengalese) Finch
has a long history behind it. Believed
to have been bred first in China, then
introduced to Japan, this totally
domesticated bird has been cared for
for over 250 years. It is a small bird,
about 10 em (4 inches) in size. Color
varieties include very dark browns
(chocolates), cinnamon (fawns) and
white. Solid colors are called "selfs."
Birds with a mix of white and various
shades of brown are called "pied";
chocolate-pied and fawn-pied. No
two patterns are alike and may help to
distinguish individuals. Males and
females appear identical and cannot
be visually sexed. Bengalese Finches
are sexed by their behaviors. Gaining
maturity at about nine months, males
will sing, hop about with body
feathers fluffed and neck stretched,
head lowered and bouncing, or displaying
with grass or nesting material
in their bills. Females do none of these
behaviors. The only sound they make
is a slight buzzing or humming sound.
Upon discovering these, try to make
note of the color patterns of each bird
to form your pairs.
·society Finches are year-around
breeders, but it is recommended that
you allow only three clutches per year
with a one-and-one-half months rest
between clutches to prevent overtaxing
the birds' reproductive system.
Ideally, breeders should be kept in
single pairs, in individual cages; but in
larger aviaries pairs may be successfully
housed with other small finch
species such as Zebras, Cut-throats or
Gouldians with no ill effect.
Single pair cages should measure
35.5 X 35.5 X 60 em (15" X 15" X 24")
with 3/8" to 1/2" wire mesh spacing.
Any larger mesh and the birds could
possibly escape. The cage should be
longer rather than taller, to provide
adequate flying as they fly horizontally
rather than vertically. Provide various
sized diameter perching to keep
feet in good condition. Small clean
tree or shrub branches may be used.
Keep perching clean of fecal build-up.
In an aviary, you might consider adding
potted bushes or trees along with
the perching for privacy. Artificial
nests provided can be the finch wicker
woven baskets found in most pet
stores or a simple cardboard or
wooden covered 4-1/2" square box
with upper front open for access.
Place nests in upper corners or mid
height in cages. In aviaries, hang several at different heights. When adding nests, don't forget to provide nesting
material or the b irds may try to use
their food for material, causing the
nests to foul quickly. Materials utilized
are hay, washed and dried grass, horsehair
nest material (sold in stores),
burlap pulled apart and cut, or even
dryer lint- it's been already sterilized!
Interest in the material may take
place as soon as it's added, with males
being the nest builders.
Within a short time after a completed
nest, a mature, bonded pair will
start egg production. A completed
clutch is usually four to eight eggs
with the average being five small
white eggs. Incubation is shared
between the male and the female and
lasts 12 to 14 days. Society Finches are
very devoted parents so your inspection
of the chicks will not disrupt their
parental care. The chicks fledge in
about three to four weeks, but chicks
will continue to beg for one to two
weeks after fledging.
Basic diet for Society Finches is simple
- millet, vitamins, minerals,
greens and water. Seeds that are eaten
include canary, rape, poppy, flax ,
niger, hulled oats or commercial finch
mix. You should check to confirm
seeds are fresh by sprouting a small
sample . Soak the seed and, in two to
three clays, sprouts should appear.
The sprouted sample may then be fed
to the finches. A 75% sprouting indicates
seeds are fresh. Afterward,
sprouts may be fed to birds, but allow
no mold to form. Finches do not eat
the whole grain of a seed, but crack
anct dist~n·d the outer husk, leaving
the chaff, so it is always wise to blow
on a dish filled with seed to remove