Finches don't mind an audience but would rather you stay on your own side of the bars, and they prefer perches to shoulders or fingers for sitting. But with the right food and housing, these energetic, easy-care socialites provide a show worthy of the ticket price.
Pick the right spot in your home for the cage, ideally a bright area without a lot of foot traffic. Finches do best in constant temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees. To prevent extreme fluctuations, don't place them near drafty windows, outer doors or heat and air-conditioning vents. And keep them out of the kitchen since fumes from Teflon pans, cleaning products or your cooking goofs are often toxic to birds.
Buy the largest flight cage you can afford. Finches spend their life, an average of 7 to 10 years, in a cage. Flight cages are longer than they are tall and allow your feathered friends to flit and flutter as they would in the wild. Pick one specially designed for finches, with limited space between the bars to keep them from sticking heads or wings through.
Arrange the perches so that your finches have a clear flight path and set a few nontoxic plants close to the cage to give your birds some privacy and a more natural habitat. Finches don’t need all the bells and whistles parakeets enjoy but may find it interesting to investigate a toy—just don’t place items in the cage that could cause injury or hanging death as they fly.
Bring home two unless you've chosen the territorial canary, a finch who prefers the single life. Most are social creatures and cannot live a healthy life without a finch buddy. There are several domesticated finch species to choose from in enough colors to match any home decor. The zebra finch, for instance, is a longtime favorite of avian fans and comes in about 20 different hues.
Feed your birds a pellet-and-seed mix developed especially for finches. They require different nutrients from parrots, parakeets and other birds, so grabbing any old bag of bird food won't work. Provide fresh food every day and fill the dish to the brim since a finch's metabolism runs so high he'll actually starve to death if left without food for 24 hours.
Wash all water dishes and food cups in soapy water daily, making sure you rinse and dry thoroughly. Use a paper liner at the bottom of the cage to catch droppings: change it daily as well. Clean the cage thoroughly once a week by removing and scrubbing the bottom slide-out tray and perches and wiping down the bars with a barely moist sponge.
Spend some time in a comfy chair every day watching and listening to your finches. They don't crave human interaction like parrots and not many have the singing talent of the male canary, but all emit enough whistles, chirps and trills as they go about their business to brighten even gloomy days.
- Call your local humane society or a nearby avian rescue to ask about finches waiting for a home.
- Add a millet spray to the cage occasionally, or try small amounts of fresh, well-washed romaine lettuce or finely chopped fruits or vegetables for a treat. No avocados, though.
- To keep your finch family from growing, bring home only males or only females; some finch types, such as society finches, are excellent breeders and brooders.
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.