Zebra Finches




  My love of finches started with two Pied Gray Zebra finches that my husband, Bill bought for me a few years ago.  The female's bright orange beak reminded me of a carrot, so I named her Anne, after the "carrot topped" character Anne of Green Gables.  Of course, that meant that the male had to be named Gil.  I now keep and breed several different types of finches, but I think I will always keep some Zebra finches around. 

  Normal Grey Zebra (Male) with a Black Cheeked Zebra (Male).  Note the bright red beaks:  this is an indication that the males are in prime breeding condition.  Male's beaks are normally red. This is a photo of two  Zebra finch hens.  The one at the left (with the "tear marks") is a Regular Chestnut Flanked White (RCFW) and the other is Pied Fawn.

  This is a group of male zebra finches.  The light one in the foreground is Regular Chestnut Flanked White (RCFW) which shows poor coloration.  The others are a Fawn, another RCFW, and a Light Back Grey. Three nestlings:  note their black beaks.  All baby zebra finches have black beaks except for Continental Chestnut Flanked Whites (CCFW), which have a clear pink beak, and Fawns, which have a brown beak.  They turn their normal color (red for males, orange for females) as they mature.  This photo shows three nestlings, all Light Back Greys, as their mother looks on from the right.

  Another view of the same zebra finches as above.  The center bird is a Fawn, and the other two are Regular Chestnut Flanked Whites (RCFW).

A Normal Grey Male Zebra Finch.

  Zebra finches are cute and adorable little finches. They are easy to raise and require minimal care. They originated in the grasslands of Australia, where they still can be found in the wild. However, for many years they have been protected, and all the zebra finches you find for sale today have been bred in captivity. 

They come in a variety of colors from gray, fawn, white and many variations in between. The zebra male is easy to spot with his bright orange, black, fawn, or gray cheek patches. He will have throat stripes from his beak to his belly, (unless he is a Florida Fancy or Penguin,) that will remind you of a zebra. He also has chestnut or black flanks that are poke-a-dotted and a "tear drop" from his eye. Their tails are usually black or brown and have white spots. The hen looks like the male but doesn’t have the cheek patches, throat stripes, or the flanks. Except for the black cheek, fawn cheek, or gray cheek hens they will have the cheek patches also.

Zebra finches are usually about 4” long from beak to tail. The male has a cute little song and the hen just “meeps”. The males will have bright red beaks and the hens have orange beaks. Zebra are social finches and need to be in pairs. However, that doesn’t limit you to just male female pairs. I would strongly recommend that if you are going to go with just one sex that you get three of the same sex, they seem to get along a lot better as a trio.

Zebras are known for being easy and hardy breeders. Just put a male and a female together and soon you will have eggs. Zebras should have a nesting box of some kind. I don’t recommend using the wicker nests that are sold at the pet stores, because their nails can get caught in the wicker and this can kill the bird or cut them. Another option to make your nest boxes out of cardboard. The directions for these can be found at www.ringneckdove.com.  Zebras will build nests just about any where including their food dishes. I usually remove the food cups that come with the cages because I have found that they encourage egg laying.

Zebras usually lay 4 to 6 eggs but have been known to lay as many as 8 at a time. They usually start sitting on the eggs after the third or fourth egg has been laid. Once they start sitting on the eggs it takes about 14 days for the eggs to start hatching. However I have had them hatch as late as 18 days. By waiting to start sitting the birds help to ensure that most of them will hatch with in a day or two of each other. This becomes important as the hatchlings mature. The first two or three days the hatchlings beg so quietly that you mostly won’t hear them. But as they get older their begging gets louder. The parents usually start feeding the loudest ones first. A younger one usually can’t beg as loudly as the older ones and it gets fed last.

When zebras are hatched their skin will be gray, brown, or pink (depending on the color mutation) and except for the Continential Chestnut Flanked White (CCFW) they will have black or brown beaks and a little bit of down feathering. The first day the parents rarely feed them because they eat the egg sack. But it will be easy to see that the parents are feeding them. They will have a swollen area in their neck that will look like it is full of white bumps. That is the food in their crops before they completely digest it.



This photo is a five day old Regular Chestnut Flanked White (RCFW) Zebra Finch.  Note the full crop (the white bumps). 
  Currently I am working on breeding Continental Chestnut Flanked White Zebra finches, Black Cheek Zebra finches, and a Black Cheeked Continental Chestnut Flanked White Zebra finch.  My son Mark is currently breeding a pair of Light Backed Zebra Finches. 

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This site was last updated 10/14/07