Zebra finches are a popular songbird native to Australia. These boisterous, social birds vary in appearance based on their gender, where males have a colorful plumage including black and white striped tales, a striped chest, brown feathers on their sides, and orange cheeks. Females are more uniformly grey. Both genders have orange beaks and distinctive red eyes.
While female zebra finches typically don't sing, males have a unique song. Due to their social nature, zebra finches should be kept in pairs or small groups. If you don't want to breed your birds, it's suggested to keep them in groups of the same gender. With proper care, these birds can live 5-10 years.
The zebra finch diet consists of a seed mixture for small birds. This should be made up of different kinds of millet and canary seed as well as other seeds. It's important, that zebra finches always have access to food. If they are too fat, then they need more exercise, not less food.
In addition, zebra finches like many greens, such as dandelion leaves and chickweed. Millet sprays are also appreciated. Make sure you get any greens from a non-polluted area. For instance picking dandelion leaves from the roadside is not a good idea.
Zebra finches should always have access to clean, fresh water.
In general, birds should always have access to some form of calcium. Usually cuttlefish bone and/or sea shells are very popular, but so are egg shells from regular chickens. If you do use egg shells, it's recommended to microwave the shells for a few minutes (or heat them in a regular oven) in order to kill any bacteria, specifically Salmonella. Let the shells cool completely before feeding them to the birds.
While zebra finches are able to tolerate many environments without many problems, temperatures below 60 degrees aren't ideal for the health of the bird, and therefore should be kept inside due to Midwest climate variability.
Ideally, cages should be at least 24"W x 16"H x 16"D, but larger is always better, especially when housed in small groups. The metal bars of the cage should be placed no more than 3/8" apart. Perches are a necessary addition to any zebra finch cage. Remember to use perches that are the correct size for your finch’s feet.
In addition to providing access to clean, fresh drinking water, zebra finches love to bathe and should have access to a shallow water dish for bathing at least a few times per week.
If you intend to breed your zebra finches, you'll also want to provide a nestbox and nesting material.