Are Pet Finches Right for You?
Of all the birds I’ve owned, finches remain among my favorite. I affectionately call them “the happiest little creatures on Earth.” Finches are simply the peppiest, most joyful birds out there – and it’s impossible to be unhappy watching them as they chirp and flutter about. Another benefit? Finches are fairly easy to care for. Read on and you’ll see what I mean!
There are literally dozens of different finch breeds and varieties within each breed. Finches are incredibly diverse in terms of appearance, so if you’re looking for a brightly colored finch, the Gouldian Finch or the Strawberry Finch (yes, they look like little strawberries!) are probably more your speed, whereas fans of more muted colors will enjoy the Spice Finch or the Society Finch.
Finches are small – just a few inches from head to tail. Their lifespan is also relatively short (for a bird), as most have a life expectancy of 6 to 10 years. Their diet is simple, consisting of seeds, fruits, nuts and vegetables. And they don’t require an expensive cage, though their cage should be on the larger end of the small cage spectrum (i.e. a small flight cage) in order to provide plenty of room for the birds to flutter and fly.
Finches are social birds and they must be kept with at least one other finch. Various finch breeds can be housed together, but finches cannot be caged with other birds due to their unique dietary requirements and potential for injury when placed with other types of birds.
Finches are essentially ornamental songbirds. They do not relish direct human contact and handling like other birds such as the parakeet. But nevertheless, finches enjoy passive human companionship and many will sing and flirt when their favorite humans are near.
Finches are capable of some very delightful vocalizations and unlike most other pet birds, finches are not prone to unpleasant squacking and screeching. Each breed of finch has a slightly different “song” and some breeds – like the Spice Finch – tend to be quieter, while the Zebra Finch or the Society Finch tend to be more vocal.
In terms of daily care, finches require little by way of a daily time commitment. Finches require fresh water and fresh food (seeds and fresh foods like fruits) daily. The perches and grate on the bottom of the cage must be wiped down to remove droppings and the cage liner must be changed. Some finch owners also provide a small, shallow dish to serve as a bird bath of sorts – a treat for finches of all kinds. In all, it takes about five minutes per day and about $15 per month to provide quality care for 2 or more finches.
While finches can be purchased from many pet stores, the healthiest and best-bred finches are purchased from professional finch breeders. A major benefit of purchasing a finch from a breeder is the ability to adopt a young finch.
Adult finches who have not been in close contact with humans – like the finches found at most pet stores – are frightened of humans, and they will panic if you get too close of if you place your hand inside the cage. But a young bird is naturally unafraid of humans and by regularly placing your hand inside the cage and allowing the birds to become familiar with your presence, the birds will remain comfortable with humans.
A fearful bird can be difficult or impossible to handle for nail clippings and he will be more difficult to catch if he escapes from his cage. A fearful bird will also be more difficult to treat the event of an injury or illness.
Finches vary dramatically in terms of cost. A Society Finch may cost $15 or less, while a colorful Gouldian Finch can cost well over $200. And remember, a lone finch is an unhappy finch, so you’ll need to adopt at least two finches if you decide that this is the bird for you.
Considering a finch? You may also enjoy learning about canaries, another popular songbird.