Due to the large trade that formed over half a century ago around this bird, it is now possible to see finches anywhere in the world. But if you’re thinking of taking care of one, what would you need to know about this species?
- 1 Types of finches
- 2 Darwin’s finches: Why do they receive this name?
- 3 A very curious species
- 4 What does a finch look like?
- 5 If I want a finch, how long will it live?
- 6 I’m going to buy her a cage, what am I looking for?
- 7 Where do I put my finch cage?
- 8 Cleaning the cage, is it difficult?
- 9 What can I feed my finch?
- 10 What diseases can a finch have?
- 11 If I want to train my finch, what do I need to know?
- 12 I want to raise finches, is it hard?
Types of finches
Darwin’s finches: Why do they receive this name?
Fifteen species of finches that Charles Darwin discovered on his trip to the Galapagos Islands are known as “Darwin’s finches”. These species all had important differences in the sizes and shapes of their beaks, which were adapted to the different food sources required by each of them.
These species were named “Darwin’s finches” because they were believed to be the basis of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, although it was later discovered in Darwin’s own writings that this was not really so, as he did not even think that all these species belonged to the finches family.
A very curious species
The finch, better known as Fringilla coelebs, is one of the Passerines, originating in Sweden, where it was named by the researcher Linnaeus as Frigngilla coelebs. The term coelebes, which means single, is given to it because during the winter it is the females that migrate while the males are the ones that stay in the nest.
They usually live in wooded areas, but can also be found in gardens and farms. The nests are made in the trees, decorated with moss and lichen. A bird that, over time, has also spread throughout Africa and Asia for the fame it has generated in recent years.
What does a finch look like?
The finch is a small bird that can reach up to 16 centimetres from its beak to its tail and is very similar in size to a sparrow. Many people seem to mistake it for these species, but it’s easy to tell them apart by a white patch on their shoulder that is more visible when they take flight.
It is easy to tell the male from the female because of the sexual dimorphism they have. Males have different shades of salmon color in the belly, chest and cheeks, in addition to their crown and never have bluish-grey highlights. On the other hand, during the spring they have a black band on their foreheads. The females, on the other hand, have duller brown tones and in what they coincide with the male is the greenish bishopric. It is also possible to confuse it with the real finch, but it has some slight differences that make it easy to distinguish them.
It is a good flyer and is usually in the same place much of its life, since it is not a migratory bird, although this does not mean that with the arrival of winter they do not take the flight to seek a warmer area.
If I want a finch, how long will it live?
The life expectancy of a finch is relatively short compared to other birds such as a parrot, which can live up to 60 years. But they live much less, having a life expectancy that usually ranges from 9 to 12 years living in captivity.
However, with good care and a healthy diet, it has happened that some finches have lived to be 15 years old, some have even managed to exceed this limit, but there are very few.
I’m going to buy her a cage, what am I looking for?
Even though the finches are small in size, they love to fly inside their cages, so you have to buy a large one. Ideally, the cage should be about 30 centimeters long by about 60 centimeters high (because they like to fly up) by about 45 centimeters deep. In the case of two finches, the capacity of the cage should be doubled so that they have enough space to move without colliding. The space of the bars should not be greater than 1 centimeter, in order to prevent you from putting your head between them. Also, since the finch likes to rest on the walls, it is good for it to have a horizontal bar.
When you buy the cage, if the hangers are pin or coated sandpaper hangers, they should be removed immediately, because they are bad for your feet. In this case it is best to install some wooden branches, which you can collect from the street, or buy them in the store so that you can sharpen your nails without problems. As far as hangers are concerned, wooden hangers should be purchased, with at least two hangers per finch, so that you have enough entertainment.
When it comes to toys, you can buy anything from pearls to mirrors, but especially avoid reflective objects that could attract other wild finches.
There are cages with a large number of shapes, but it is important to avoid cages that are oval or that can simulate the shape of a small house. Squared or rectangular is better. However, if the cage is large enough for the finch to move smoothly, nothing will happen if the top of the cage is spiked, simulating a roof, because the finch will have enough room to move and will not be stressed.
Where do I put my finch cage?
Before you buy the cage, you have to think, is there space where you can place it? The finch cage has to be on a solid surface, such as a table or base, so that the animal feels safe when flying back and forth within it. In addition, it must always be at the level of the human being’s eyes, so that it does not become frightened, added to the fact that two of its walls must be glued to the walls of the house, so that the animal does not become frightened when it arrives.
On the other hand, it is good to give it natural light, but avoiding direct sunlight or strong draughts, which could make the finch sick. In addition, it should not be placed near a TV, on the balcony or in the kitchen, as the animal could become frightened or stressed. The best is in the living room or in the room where you have the most social life. If your house is very dark because it is interior, there are devices to provide artificial light to these birds that cost very little money.
For your feed and watering trough, choose plastic troughs that can be attached to the outside of the trough, so that there is no door that the animal can use to escape. The water must be changed every day and twice a day in summer so that you always have fresh water.
Cleaning the cage, is it difficult?
Keeping the finch cage clean is not at all complicated. But you’re going to have to clean it well at least twice a month. To be able to clean it, change to a smaller cage for the first time during the cleaning process.
Remove the base of the cage. In this one you should have put soil or sawdust for the feces and urine. To make it easier to clean, it’s a good idea to put some newsprint on it before you put it on, so it’s much easier. Detoxify well with bleach diluted in water. Use this same mixture to clean the bars and hangers of the finch with a brush and then wash with plenty of water and then dry with a dry cloth.
With everything dry, you can put the finch back in its cage now. The perches may need to be replaced after three or four months with new ones, as it is not uncommon for the finch to defecate on them and this is harmful to the animal.
In the summer, finches like to bathe very much, so put a large cup of cool water in them for a bath and remove them in the afternoon. Offer her this cup every day to keep her cool if your house is too hot.
What can I feed my finch?
Many people who have a finch at home often opt for a simple type of food, such as bird food sold in pet stores and supermarkets that already contain a combination of seeds, dried fruits, dried legumes and herbs. A diet that provides minerals, but not enough of them.
The finch needs, especially calcium to take care of its bones as well as vitamin D, so it is good to put some vitamin and mineral supplement in the water to receive both nutrients in your body. In addition, during the time of feather shedding you will need a lot of protein, so during this stage you should give him some small insects, worms or hemp seeds.
Although this diet should be enough, it is good to give the bird another type of food that will allow it to receive good nutrition and also fight future illnesses. Small amounts of dandelions, apples, spinach, carrots, corn, grapes, or lettuce can be given as long as they are well chopped. And at the most, you have to give it to him three times a week. Thanks to these foods, the bird will not only be healthier, it will also be more hydrated, which is why it is very useful in summer.
Among other foods that can be given, is crushed egg shells mixed with crackers, ideal for when finches have been parents. Although it is best to use hard-boiled eggs, including eggshells, with a slice of whole wheat bread soaked in water and make a mixture. This will make it much easier for them to feed their young. On the other hand, it will be much healthier for birds.
What diseases can a finch have?
Just because the finch is going to spend most of his life in a cage doesn’t mean he can’t have a disease. In fact, 6 out of 10 finches die from disease. So, what diseases can this bird have?
- Enteritis: This disease is commonly known as intestinal inflammation and is usually caused by poor food, a significant temperature change in the finch habitat or by some germs such as salmonella. The finch will be drowsy, have diarrhea, lose weight, and show apathetic behavior to its owner. We need to start cleaning his cage and giving him healthy food, plus some antibiotics in the water to get him well.
- Constipation: It is possible that when you feed the bird too dry, due to sudden changes in temperature or stress, the bird may feel constipated and have difficulty evacuating. Your cloaca will be red and your belly will be swollen. In this case, you will need to change your diet and give your baby a digestive supplement to help him or her evacuate.
- Cloacitis: This disease affects females more than males. This is an inflammation of the cloaca that causes swelling in the abdomen, redness of the cloaca, and great difficulty passing stool. Also, it is common for stool to stick to the feathers on the bottom of the tail. It usually occurs due to feeding or adaptation problems on the part of the female. To cure it, clean the area around the sewer and apply a zinc oxide ointment.
- Intestinal worms: One of the most common diseases in birds due to eating bad food. The finch will have massive thinning, it will be tired and small white fragments will be visible in the stool. To help you recover, you need to clean your entire cage and provide healthy food. If it does not improve, it should be taken to the vet as a matter of urgency.
- Plumage acariosis: Usually caused by external parasites, such as mites or lice that nest in their feathers. Because of these parasites, the bird will start to pull out its feathers and will not stop scratching. In this case, your home and your pen should be disinfected with a suitable product.
- Abnormal plumage molt: It is normal for the finch to molt its feathers once a year, at most twice. But you may suddenly find that she’s moving it in an abnormal way. One of the main causes is often poor nutrition, but it can also be caused by living in an environment with poor hygiene. Your home needs to be cleaned and fed a variety of foods, as well as some supply of vitamins in the water.
- Abnormal beak growth: Although it is a disease that usually affects other types of birds, finches can also suffer from it. In this case, the finch should be well fed and given a place where it can be filed down, like a few branches or tree trunks in its cage. Otherwise, we’ll have to go to a vet.
- Stomatitis: This is an inflammation of the mouth that can force the bird to breathe into the bird with its beak open, having many problems eating. The main cause is to give the bird foods that are too hard to digest.
- Conjunctivitis blepharitis: An inflammation in the eye that causes it to be irritated, leggy and usually closed. In this case you will need to take an antibiotic in the water, although it would be best to apply it directly to your eye, something that only an experienced vet can do.
- Acariasis on the legs: On the legs you will find symptoms of scaling, crusting and deformation of the toes, because the bird does not have adequate perches to stand on and the hygienic conditions of the cage are not the best. In these cases, it should be taken quickly to the vet so that he can tell you which antibiotic treatment should be followed.
- Hoarseness: If the cage is located in a place with too many drafts, or has suffered a sudden change in temperature when the cage is moved, then the bird will start coughing and sneezing. In this case, it should be moved to a warm place with a constant temperature and given an infusion of honey and chamomile.
- Pneumonia: Remember that the bird should never be exposed to a place in the house where there are strong currents of air, because otherwise it could suffer from pneumonia that will prevent it from breathing normally, it will have mucus and a general hollowing of the plumage. In this case, the cage should be moved to a warmer place and given some antibiotic with the water.
- Anemia: Yes, finches can also suffer from anemia when exposed to an unbalanced diet that prevents the generation of red blood cells in the blood. He’ll lose weight, his legs and beak will lose their color and he’ll show up in a very bad mood. Start giving her a vitamin B supplement with the water to help her recover.
- Air bladder: Especially affects newborns, and produces subcutaneous air bubbles. It is especially caused by a bad combination of environment and food. You have to burst the bubbles on your way out and spread penicillin ointment on the affected area, as well as move the cage around so that it is more in line with your environmental needs.
- Fracture: Because it is a very active animal, it would not be unusual for the finch to break its leg when trying to move around the cage. You’ll notice if it doesn’t rest on the hanger. In this case the leg must be immobilized between two rods with a piece of poultice so that it can sweat. It should be cured after three weeks, so the rods can be removed.
If I want to train my finch, what do I need to know?
Is it possible to train a finch? Yes, it is, yes, it is. Although they don’t learn as many tricks as other animals, you can teach them to respond to your name or to pose on your finger without much trouble, but first of all you have to earn their trust. But how is it done?
- First of all, leave the animal alone once it has arrived at home, so that it can adapt to its new environment. Since you will be in the room where there is most social activity, you will soon get used to being around family and will soon approach the walls of the cage to gossip. It’s important that at first you just feed him and change the water, without saying anything else.
- When he starts to get close to the cage, it’s time to start calling him by his name when you start to give him food or change the water, so he will associate it with your voice and recognize you.
- It is necessary to avoid at all costs scares or to try to touch the finch unless it is going to be left. Just because it comes close to the bars of the cage wall doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to let you just touch it.
- Wait at least a month for the bird to get used to its new home in the house, and then you can start training.
Well, after a while, it’s time to train your finch, but what steps should you take to get it to sit on your finger and take it out of the cage?
- The first thing to do is to create a comfortable and comfortable environment, eliminating any distractions that might attract the finch’s attention. Secondly, be clear that the training should not last more than 15 minutes a day, because otherwise the bird will end up being very stressed.
- Always have a trinket on hand that your finch will like very much, so you can reward it when it has complicated with your order.
- Before you think about putting your hand inside the cage, start by trying to touch it through the bars. The bird knows that it is safe behind bars, so it will not like it if you invade its home without first establishing a “bond with you”. So, try to touch him by luring him in with your favorite trinket. It could take days, weeks or a few hours, depending on the character of the finch. If you have succeeded, repeat the process for at least a week to give the bird confidence.
- Can you touch him through the bars of the cage yet? Then it was time to reach in. Close windows and doors, in case it escapes from your cage, and reach into it with your hand. At first you may be skeptical and won’t want to go near it, so after ten minutes remove your hand and repeat the process every day.
- When he starts eating from your hand, do not take him out of the cage yet, but once he has eaten everything, touch his belly with your finger, but never his head or beak. If he pecks at you, don’t get angry, as this will scare him and may break the bond you have created with him.
- About a week after he started eating from your hand, it’s time to put him on your finger. For that, when he is on a hanger, give him a little push with his finger so that he loses his balance, which will force him to rest on your finger. Carefully get him out of the cage. He’ll most likely take flight, but be patient, he’ll return to his cage when he’s hungry. Don’t try to catch him under any circumstances.
- Repeat the process every day, starting to give him the order to climb on your finger and rewarding him with some trinkets. That way you’ll get your voice to rest on your finger as soon as it’s heard. It’s good that you train him to do it with both hands, so he’ll get used to changing from one to the other.
I want to raise finches, is it hard?
It is not impossible, but they are quite difficult to breed in captivity, so only experienced breeders can do it. To begin with, it is necessary to recreate its ideal habitat, and depending on the species of finch, this can be a forest or a garden. Environmental conditions are also very important, so you also need to recreate the ideal temperature. In addition, since finches usually prepare their nests for camouflaging, the same protocol must be followed when keeping them in captivity.
Once this has been achieved, they must be given a good diet and the female and male must be left at their side, without disturbing them at any time, since if you see that their nest area is in danger they will not want to lay eggs. If you have been lucky, the female will be in heat and lay up to six eggs and then spend about 25 days incubating.
You have to keep in mind that the young are deaf and blind at birth, so during the first two months they will be fully protected and fed by their parents. After two months, you can now move them to another module or cage so that they can be bred with other finches without any problem.