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Finch Information

Bird lovers with little time on their hands may find that a pair of finches would be their ideal choice for a pet. Unlike parrot species, which require constant stimulation, finches prefer mostly to be left alone and if handled they often become quite stressed. Finches are best for someone who loves to sit and watch their birds rather than someone looking for an affectionate friend. If you're that type of bird lover, a finch will provide a lovely addition to your home.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing

Finches live for approximately 4 to 7 years. Because of this limited life span, it is best to buy a finch when they are still young. Finches don't like to live alone. They should be in a bird cage or aviary with at least one other finch. If you have no intention of breeding them, they don't mind being in same sex pairs. If you intend to keep many finches you must remember that they can be territorial and may pick on a weaker bird sometimes until they kill it. When new birds are bought you should be sure to watch how they interact to ensure that none are being bullied in this manner. If they are, some options to deal with the situation might include putting the birds in a bigger cage or increasing the number of birds because it appears that when they are above six in number the bullying tends to disappear.

There are a large variety of finches kept as pets. Before making a purchase do a bit of research into the various species. Some are known for their extraordinary colors while others sing lovely songs. Your preference will be the main factor in which species you eventually choose.

You also must take into consideration where you will buy your finches. Many people rush off to a pet store but these are not always the ideal places to purchase a bird. If you do decide to purchase from a pet store be sure to inspect the bird thoroughly for any signs of sickness. A sick bird might show any of the following symptoms:
fluffed out feathers
sitting listless on the cage floor
abnormal growth on beak or feet
tail bobbing
dull or swollen eyes

The best place to purchase a bird is from a reputable bird breeder. Still keep your head up for any warning signs of sickness. Visit the breeding facility and ask to look around. Check that the cages are large enough for flight and not overcrowded. Be sure that they are clean and birds have access to clean water and ample food.

When buying the birds try and get as much information as possible from the breeder. Find out the sex and the family history of the bird. It's best to purchase a bird that has already gone through its first molt but is not too old.

Finch Cages

The most important things to keep in mind when setting up the cage or aviary for you finches is that they require ample room to fly around and they must be safe and disease free.

Unlike parrot species that climb in their cages, finches get their exercise exclusively from flying. This is why it is imperative to make sure that the cage that you have for them is quite long. They care little about the height of the cage, but the length is all important. For a pair of finches the length of the cage should not be less than 30 inches.

Finches do not care much for complicated bird toys that parrots adore. They do need bird perches though. Dowel perches often cause feet problems so avoid them. Also, never use sand paper covered perches as they are harmful to your bird and offer no benefits. Rather choose non-toxic hardwood branches as perches. Don't choose redwood, cedar or pressed wood chips as they are poisonous to birds. As anything made of wood cannot be sterilized, after they are covered in droppings they must be replaced to avoid illness. Finches also like swings but both bird swings and bird perches should be placed out of their flight path and not over their food or water dishes to avoid fecal contamination.

The best thing to line the cage with is newspaper. Good food and water dishes should be made from stainless steel or non-toxic plastic. It's a good idea to place the bird food container on one side of the cage and the water container on the other to encourage the bird to get exercise.

Finches need full spectrum sunlight to remain healthy. If possible, their cage should be kept near a window that can be opened or they can be taken outside. Make sure that if they are in direct sunlight they have somewhere in their cage to find a shady spot. If natural sunlight is not possible then a bird cage light with a timer that follows natural sunlight patterns can be used. In the night finches want darkness to sleep but it is not a good idea to cover their cage with a cloth as this limits fresh air.

Finch Food

The shape of a finch's bill is a sure fire giveaway that they are seed-eaters, but in the wild they also eat sprouts and insects to make up for the nutritional deficiency of seeds. Domesticated finches would gladly eat bird seeds exclusively, but if they did they would suffer from malnutrition. It's up to the owner to ensure that their finches get a balanced diet.

Nowadays, there are finch pellets on the market that offer a complete diet for finches. It is important to purchase the ones made specifically for finches. These have been scientifically researched for the specific nutritional needs of finches.

Finches also benefit from fresh food. A good mix is to grind up a whole boiled egg (shell and everything as the shell will give your pet the calcium that it needs) and mix it with some chopped vegetables, fruits or bean sprouts. Vegetables such as carrots, spinach, broccoli and other brightly colored veggies are ideal. The same goes for fruits. Mangoes, papaya, pineapples, oranges, bananas are good fruits to choose. You may also give them premixed bird foods that are cooked and served. This 'egg mix' should be given fresh and any remainder removed from the cage after four hours.

Finches raised strictly on seeds often balk at pellets and fresh food. It is best to offer new foods in the morning or in the evening, which is a finch's natural foraging time.

Finch Care

Food and water should be changed daily. It is a good idea to wash the dishes with dishwashing soap and water. The cage should be cleaned weekly. When cleaning or disinfecting your finch's cage, transfer your birds to a temporary cage. All surfaces should be wiped clean with bird cage cleaners and then rinsed thoroughly. Monthly the whole cage should be disinfected with a mixture of 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. The bleach mixture should not be used on metal surfaces. Before disinfecting be sure that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Rinse off the bleach solution and let the cage dry in the sun.

Finches will occasionally need their nails cut. Purchase a pair of small bird nail clippers or a pair of baby nail cutters. Disinfect these before and after use. Have on hand some styptic powder just in case you cut too deep and the nail bleeds. It is good to hold the nail up to a strong light so that you can see where the vein is and are able to avoid it. Trim only a tiny bit off the end of the nail.

There is normally no need to trim your finch's beak as they take care of their beak themselves.

Finch Illnesses

Finches are notoriously difficult to cure so the best thing is to keep your birds healthy by maintaining a clean environment. By the time that a finch shows any of the signs of sickness mentioned early, the bird is very sick and should be taken to an avian veterinary straight away.

You also must be very careful when buying new birds to be put in the same cage as the ones that you already own. They should be kept in a completely separate place in quarantine for 6-8 weeks. It is a good idea to have them checked thoroughly by an avian veterinarian because there are diseases that a healthy bird can only be a carrier of and will show no signs of illness. These could be deadly to your other birds.

Conclusion

Finches are lovely pets that won't demand a lot for their owner but will give you many hours of companionship and entertainment. Finches are the perfect bird for the person with a busy schedule.

 

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