Best Things Comes in Small Packages: The Finch

July 11, 2018

Best Things Comes in Small Packages: The Finch

Ahh, yep, they are cute aren’t they? Although not as friendly to humans as macaws and other parrots do, they still have those unique qualities and personalities that attracts a lot of people in keeping them as pets. There is one thing that beats other pet birds into submission, and that is their lovely songs. Compared to parrots and macaw which mimics sounds and noise around them, finches have that mellow and sometimes rhythmic songs that is very unique and varies from one area to another, so that means a finch which comes from the north may have a different tune compared to ones found in the south.


Their Origin…

The very first documented human/finch relationship goes back to the mid 14th century, when Java Sparrows were kept by China’s 1st Ming Dynasty due to the lovely tune that they make. The west was a bit slow in adopting them as pets (for they are very common and sometimes treated as pests), but five hundred years ago the first Canaries were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors; and in the last 100 years these “bird pioneers” have been joined by many other pet finches, most notably the Zebra finch.

The word “Finch” is a loose term to one of hundreds of small passerine birds that belong to the family Fringillidae (Fringillidae comes from the Latin word fringilla for the common chaffinch, or the Fringilla coelebs, which is a member of the family which is common in Europe). The name was made by the English zoologist William Elford Leach in a guide to the contents of the British Museum published in 1820.

Finches have stout conical bills adapted for eating seeds and often have colorful plumage. They occupy a great range of habitats where they are usually resident and do not migrate. They can be found pretty much anywhere in the world except Australia, Asia, Antarctica, the Southern Pacific and the islands of the Indian Ocean, although some European species have been widely introduced in Australia and New Zealand.


Common Varieties and Subspecies

They may vary from different coloration and personalities, most notable finch subspecies that are commonly taken as pets includes:


Domestic Canary

I know you might be wondering why the canary is here on the list. Well you see, the domestic canary is still a part of the finch family (that’s the reason the canary and the finch have physical similarities). The domestic canary, or just simply called as the canary (Serinus canaria forma domestica). is a “tamed” version of the wild canary which is a small songbird that is native to the Azores, Madeira and Canary Island.

Commonly, wild canaries comes in yellowish-green color, while their domesticated relatives were carefully bred to produce a wide assortment of colors such as shades of yellow, vermillion, brown, black, white, and crimson.


Zebra Finch

Having a pint-sized body that usual measures around 10cm (4 inches) long and a plumage mostly of grey hue, black “tear drop” marking just below their eyes, zebra-like pattern around the rump and upper tail, pale grey hue on their upper chest and throat, and a chestnut hue on the sides of the belly and are with many white spots, Zebra Finch are unmistakably one of the more colorful variation of Finches available.

The Zebra finch (Taeniopygiaguttata) is second only to the Canary in pet finch popularity. Wild birds are found across much of Australia, except the cool, wet south and parts of the tropical north. The finch is also a native of Indonesia and East Timor.

There is also a number of Zebra Finches introduced American populations in the US, Brazil and Puerto Rico. In European countries, a lot of pet Zebra finches that escaped have failed to survive and flourish, with the exception of a feral population in Portugal.


Java Sparrow

The grey-colored Java sparrow or Java finch (Lonchuraoryzivora) is pretty similar with the Zebra Finch (although not that colorful) is, as you might guessed, native to Java.

It’s found in Bali and Indonesia too. The bird’s Latin tag oryzivora means rice-eater, and very notorious (and commonly treated as pest by rice farmers) over the years by feeding on rice fields in large flocks. This has also earned it the alternative names Java rice sparrow and Java rice finch.

Due to that, populations in the wild have been massively reduced by angry rice farmers who either shoots them down or uses nets to capture them, and the bird is on the list of endangered species in its native habitat.

They are characterized by their mostly grey plumage, black hood with white patch on their cheeks, red eyerings and red bills.


Gouldian Finch

One of the more strikingly colored finches with a majestic splendor, this species (Scientific name: Erythruragouldiaeis) is also called as the Rainbow finch and the Lady Gouldian The Gould in its name was of British ornithologist John Gould, who first portrayed the bird for western science in 1844. His own named it “Lady Gouldian finch”, in honor of his wife Elizabeth.

The bird is endangered in its native habitat in the north of Australia and Australian authorities banned the export of the bird in 1960 and they hoped to increase this bird’s population by breeding several hundred thousand in captivity.

Its most definable characteristic includes having a green upper body feathers from the lower nape to the back and wings, a pale blue rump and a purple breast, a black “mask” that covers its entire face (including the forehead down to its neck), a bright yellow belly, and the bill is ivory colored, with a red or yellow tip.


Star Finch

The Star finch (Scientific name: Neochmiaruficauda) is timid little bird that is native to Australia. The species has grown in popularity over the last 50 years due to its unique blend of colors.

There are now several known colour mutations such as the one that includes a yellow form where the face lacks the red coloration and is, instead, dark yellow.

This small bird has an average length of 10-12 cm and aside from the one mentioned above, is commonly seen in it’s pure green form with the exception of its red face and beak, a reddish-brown tail and white spots that runs down from its neck down to the underside of its body..


Strawberry finch

also commonly known as the Red Avadavat or Red Munia (Amandavaamandava) is an astonishing little finch that is native to the grasslands of tropical Asia.

The males, with their crimson and flecked plumage, is one of the most eye-catching of all the finch subspecies. These colors only last through the breeding season, though, and for the rest of the time it is brown and yellow, like the females.

They can sometimes become aggressively territorial, and requires green foliage in their cages for cover, which restricts their popularity to people who keeps outdoor aviaries or bird houses. They love to dine on insects, including fruit flies, which makes them a natural pest countermeasure in an aviary. The names amandava and Avadavat come from a city in the Indian town of Gujarat (Ahmedabad), which is known to export these finches for the international pet trade.

Strawberry Finches are about less than 4 inches (10 cm) long and the beak, as in most waxbills, is colored red. The males “breeding season” colors consist of a head, back and wings that are very dark red-brown and the tail is black (giving them that “bloody” appearance). The rest of the body is bright red and well spotted with white.


Parrotfinches

Parrotfinches comes in different color variations, such ones are the Red-headed or Short-tailed parrotfinch (Erythrura cyaneovirens), the Red-throated parrot finch (Erythrura psittacae) and the Blue-faced parrotfinch (Erythrura trichroa) are the most common and are all kept by aviculturists (a person who keeps and rears bird).

These birds are native to the Samoan islands and nearby islands off the eastern coast of Australia.

They are dazzling birds, with a combination of red, blues and greens of different patterns and hues. These birds are easier to breed compared to other birds (although not that sociable like most pet finches). They generally mix well with their own species, and sometimes with other species of finches too, given that you need to provide plenty of space for them.

You might be overwhelmed by the vast variations, colorations and personalities of these birds. Yep, they are really easy to take care of and doesn’t really need that level of attention like the one you give to macaws and cockatoos, but there are still basic necessities that you need to keep in mind when taking care of these impressive birds so that you can ensure that you will always hear a fine bird tune every morning when you wake up while sipping your morning coffee (or tea if you’re so inclined).

Check out Bird Breeds for other Finches species.


Care Department

Ok, so now you have bought a couple of finches as your pet (It doesn’t really matter what kind of finch you choose) and you might think “Hey, these are finches, feeding them and giving them water is all they need to survive, right?”.

You are very wrong mate.

Just like all other pets, they need attention too (heck, other people even talk to plants – yes you read it right, plants – to ensure that they grow well, and plants are not even pets on the first place!). Every living pet needs attention and care, even a freaking pet fish will die if you don’t provide proper attention and just give them food every day. So, as a responsible owner (I know, I know, not all people are fond of responsibilities, but that is already part of the package after you bought a pet finch), here are the things you need to look out: (or visit Bird Care for more ideas about Finches welfare.)


The “Cell”

Of course, you can’t just buy a finch without a cage right? or else your little birdie will fly right off after you paid the counter. So, in choosing a cage, you need to take note of these:

Cage shape

If you can only provide a small space for your birds, then it is wise to go for a cage with corners, as finches take comfort in corners when confined. If you are planning to buy a larger cage with at least 35 inch in diameter, the shape of the cage doesn’t matter anymore; although rectangular or square-shaped cages are preferable compared to cages with no corners (like the Victorian-era styled ones).

Number of birds per cage, cage size and location

For three pairs of finches, the ideal bird cage dimension should be 150 x 150 x 150 cm, and for just one pair, a bird cage 40cm wide and 20cm deep with a bird cage perch at each end is advised. Anything smaller will impede your bird’s movement. It is optimal to place the cage just outside on the porch or near a window where they have access to fresh air. You can also check these ones out on aviariesdepot.com.au for they have different cage size for all sorts of birds.

Cage Accessories

It is also important to add a bird bath, a bird feeder or bird food bowl and a bird swing inside the cage on where your finch can bath itself, eat and skip around. Also regularly change the water on the bath and the food on the bird bowl to eliminate insects that are attracted to it, and also clean the cage floor regularly to avoid the risk of your birds having diseases. (much better if the cage floor is detachable without opening the cage). And yeah don’t forget to put a cuttlebone inside the cage too.

Bird Chow

A finch will thrive on a pelleted base diet, such as Lyric Bird Seed Fine Tunes No Waste Mix-amazon and other bird food specifically designed for finches, supplemented with fresh greens and other vegetables, grubs, egg food and some seed.



In Case of Emergency..

There are some diseases that your pet finch/fiches might contact with, like air-sac mite infection and scaly face (a condition caused by a mite that presents as white, scaly areas around the beak/eyes, as well as the legs). If you have noticed this symptoms on your bird, you might need to call your vet for any possible medication that they can recommend that is available on the market.

And of course, be attentive when it comes to your bird’s needs, and also give time to talk and interact with your bird (just a few minutes a day would suffice) to ensure that your bird will not get bored, thus leading to a much healthier mental state of your bird.


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