Frequently asked Questions

Zebra finch frequently Asked Questions

A multitude of tips that have helped owners of zebra finches during personalized exchanges.









How to tell the difference between male and female zebra finch ?

All male zebra finches possess colored sides and cheeks. Except for the white mutation and white cheeks.
The female has no colored cheeks and flanks. Except for some mutations, like black cheeks and orange chest. However, the color of the flanks will be less pronounced than in the male.

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Cohabitation in the aviary between zebra finches and canaries

There are no particular disadvantages to this cohabitation. In general between straight beak it goes well, especially in large spaces.
Do not introduce newcomers when residents are breeding, they will be poorly accepted. Indeed, during the breeding season, everyone defends their nest well. Zebra finches may want the same nest as another pair (of canaries or their congeners). It will ideally be necessary to put more nests than couples and to disperse them.
One idea would be to put some hay or twigs on the ground at the time of incorporation to occupy them, create a diversion and put several feeders (often a subject of dispute). Knowing more, that the mixture of seeds is not the same for everyone.It may also be wise to incorporate young zebra finches instead for better adaptation. Although zebra finches in general adapt very quickly to change.

Cohabitation in an aviary between zebra finches and Japanese sparrows

The cohabitation between zebra finches and Japanese sparrows is not a problem. Japanese sparrows have a reputation for being good surrogate parents.In the aviary, take the precaution of making several nests available. It is likely that Japanese Sparrows tend to broods of Zebra Finches, the reverse may also occur. Suffice to say that generally all goes well between these two species. Once the brood or broods are finished, all the nests must be removed, to prevent them from becoming exhausted.

Can zebra finches live outside in cold regions ?

Zebra finches are hardy enough to live outdoors, with some precautions.
Avoid drafts, if necessary protect 1 or 2 sides of your aviary. In winter, it is ideally necessary to find a way to extend their days (with a light point) so that they can feed themselves enough to fight against the cold.You must also be wary of too dry periods, it is often at this time that there are losses. However, if you have beautiful birds, in my opinion, you will tend to want to shelter them afterwards.



How to remedy pitting between zebra finches ?

Stinging can be due to stress, excitement, too little space, lack of light, worn out lighting.
If the males and females are together, it is always preferable to separate them outside the breeding season. Pecking can also be observed when a couple wants to perfect its nest. In this case, this can be reduced by bringing them materials for their nest.
The lightening time has a great effect on zebra finches, if they are in a room of your house where this time varies a lot, this can disturb them and thus cause pitting.
Unsuitable lighting, used neon (more than a year old) can also cause pitting. Birds see artificial light flickering, when this flickering increases as the lamp ages it can easily disturb them. Too dark a place is also not suitable for them.
It can also be simply a single subject that stings the others, in which case it must be identified and isolated.
To reduce this phenomenon, you can put a ball of hay (hay for guinea pigs in pet stores) at the bottom of the cage, this will keep them busy. It will be necessary to ensure that he has some every day, reform a ball and they will have fun undoing it, hanging the strands from the bars, etc. It is also necessary to make sure to provide them with the minerals, grit or gravel from the bottom of the cage and cuttlebone necessary for their balance.

In summary :
Check the lighting, if it is natural no problem. Separate the males from the females with enough space for each (avoid round cages, they need length). If necessary, identify the one who will easily sting his congeners.

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Female chasing the male, belligerent behavior. How to cure it ?

This behavior seems that of a dominant zebra finch female or who may have another male in sight.
It is better not to insist and separate the male and the female. You can then leave this female alone for a while, and only give her the mixture of seed and water, without adding any supplements. Also remove the nest and wait for it to cool down.Then try again with another male. The new male that you will introduce to her must be in top shape to be able to impose himself on her. Another tip, move the female to the cage of the male (who will be the master of the place). Finally, remove the possibility for the female to be in contact with other neighboring males. From experience, for some females, it is sometimes necessary to present several males before one of them is not impressed and imposes itself.

A male chases other zebra finches, how do you stop him ?

The reasons for this behavior can be multiple: Excitement, restricted space, competition between males, external factors, etc.
The solution is first of all to isolate the male who pursues his congeners. Put it in a darker place with a strict diet (seeds + water). After some time when this male has regained a calmer temperament, you can try to reintroduce him with the other zebra finches.The best solution is to separate males and females, so in two separate cages or aviaries. Ideally, with separation so that they do not see each other. In addition to avoiding possible disagreements, this avoids exhausting the females (who will no longer be in demand and will not lay eggs all year round). You can then decide to form a couple in another cage.

Following quarrels, I separated the father from the mother with their young. Is this a good solution ?

In the zebra finch, both the father and the mother brood and nurture their offspring.
These disputes are certainly due to the fact that the male wants to mate again, which is common. Indeed, it is not uncommon for the female to lay eggs again even before the young are weaned.
Only one parent can feed and carry a brood. However, this is not ideal, the mother will get tired and the young may not be fed properly.Now that you have separated them, do not put them back together until the young are weaned and separated from their parent. You can separate the young from their mother at 35-40 days of life.

If the couples are already formed, is it possible to separate them ?

It's totally achievable.Each year, after 2 or 3 broods maximum, I separate male and female to put them to rest in the aviary (an aviary for the females, an aviary for the males). The following year, I reform pairs that are not necessarily the same. Many breeders that I know proceed in the same way, to avoid exhaustion and overcrowding.

Where can we find the rings?

If you decide to put simple open rings, all animal shops will be able to provide you with them. This type of ring can be put on the bird at any age.
On the other hand, if you want to ring them with your breeder number, closed ring (with year, etc.), you will find everything you need about this in this article: Ring your zebra finch



What is the appropriate cycle for a period of rest, then preparation for reproduction ?

If we follow the cycle of the seasons, rest is autumn and winter. Spring (day length up) is breeding season. From the end of June (decline in day length) it is no longer conducive to breeding. On the other hand, breeders supplant this with artificial light. Thus, some begin the breeding season in October, others in December, especially in order to choose the period that suits them best according to work, etc.

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What nest and materials for zebra finches do you recommend ?

I successfully use Samsara nests of the 2 GR brand. They are practical and well accepted by my zebra finches. They can be seen in some of the photos and videos on the site. The only drawback I can blame them for is that it turns out to be too small when the brood exceeds 3 or 4 young.
There are many other nests that may also be suitable for zebra finches. The main thing is that the chosen nest is well accepted and practical, for example to be able to take the young out to ring them. Classic wicker nests are not suitable for the breeder who wants to inspect the chicks.
I fill the Samsara nests first with a felt bottom (diameter 10 cm) that I sprinkle with anti-lice and fleas (type: Poustop Red). Then I form the nest with the most flexible hay possible. And finally, I provide a ball of nest stuffing (Premium super mix type from Benelux) in order to allow the birds to perfect their nest at their convenience.

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Two pairs have laid eggs, the cages are side by side. Should there be a divider ?

I advise you to put a separation between the two pairs (cages) to avoid disturbing the smooth running of the reproduction.

Should the male zebra finch be removed when there are young in the nest ?

The male should not be removed. In zebra finches, both male and female brood and feed the young.

A male refills the nest above the young, how to avoid this behavior ?

This male is certainly too excited and wants to start a new brood as soon as possible. This behavior can also come from an anxiety caused when the male does not appreciate the visits from us.
Remove all materials and tape the felt bottom to the nest (if you have one), so that the couple raises the young until they are 35 days old (then you can separate them). Monitor, with brief passages, if everything is going well. In particular if a baby bird does not end up on the ground, it is necessary to make sure of it especially before lying down. If you gave baths during feeding, do not offer any more to the couple until the young are weaned.To avoid, thereafter, that behaving reproduces in this male. I advise you to put it alone in the darkest place of your room with only seeds and water for a while. Decreasing the light time for him will also calm him down. Then try a brood again, changing partners can change its behavior. If he starts again, it is sometimes better to exclude him from breeding or wait for the next breeding season.

How to avoid tiring the females by repetitive spawning ?

If we give the possibility of nesting all year round, the females will get tired.
Removing the eggs encourages them to lay again. One solution is to put fake eggs or cook the eggs to replace them in the nest, so they will respond less quickly. Mark the fake eggs or cooked eggs (with a marker for example, the birds will not know the difference) to be able to identify the newly laid eggs.
In community (males and females together) do not or rarely give them food, avoid rich food if you want the males to remain calm. Baths should also not be too frequent. Reducing the time of brightness can also greatly calm them down.This fatigue caused by many clutches is not a good thing for them. This is why in my breeding, I separate males and females so as to allow them only 2 or 3 broods per year. The nest is only offered at a defined period (it is not necessary outside this period) and at which the conditions are met, time of light, temperature, humidity, suitable food, etc.

Would it be wise to use a Brinsea type fireside chair for zebra finches ?

Zebra finches are quite capable of carrying out brooding.
In the event of a brooding problem, there may be several origins: Age (minimum 8 months), too much excitement which leads to a new brood, zebra finches too close to humans (E.A.M), or simply bad parents (this exists, in this case perpetuating this inaptitude is not appropriate), breeding conditions (temperature, disturbed by pests, no return to the nest at night, etc.).Understanding why your zebra finches aren't smoldering properly makes more sense. It would therefore be a shame to distort the good natural abilities of our zebra finch by a machine.

Can we disturb them to check the nest ?

You can push them a little gently with your finger to check the nest.They will return without problem to take care of the brood. You just have to not do it before bedtime (extinguishing the light) so that they have plenty of time to go back.

From a few ages can I take the chicks ? To tame them.

You can take them for a very short time (so that they don't get cold) from birth. For example, I inspect them every day, it can be to make sure they are fed, to ring them, etc. For this it is preferable to choose a type of nest that allows easy visits. As soon as you put them back in the nest, the parents will come and take care of them again. However, do not repeat the visits too much, 1 to 2 per day remains reasonable.However, they will not be tamed as such, but rather domesticated. As an adult, they won't come over your shoulder to follow you around. This would require going further, such as feeding them completely instead of the parents.



Difficult weaning, how to promote it ?

Around the age of 20 days, young zebra finches will venture outside the nest. At this point, weaning can begin.
Put the seeds, bunches of millets, breeding mash in a feeder placed on the ground, accessible to young people. In order for learning to begin through mimicry, provide only one point of food. Indeed, young zebra finches will imitate their parents. You must also remember to put the water fountain on the ground or at the lowest point on the bars.
At 35 days of life, you can separate them from their parents. The ideal then is to put them with adult females during their first two months. They will allow them to acquire the right reflexes, total autonomy and sufficient maturity.

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Parents escaped, how can I save the 2 19 day old zebra finches ?

You have to feed them, as much as possible, with a complete food for rearing by hand (type: Nutribird A21) and adapt to their request, check if the crop is full or not. Fill their crop at each hand-feeding.
It is especially necessary to feed them in the morning and in the evening, then I would say every 3 to 4 hours during the day. It will be necessary to space out the hand-feedings more and more to encourage them to begin their weaning.
At 19 days they should be about to leave the nest. At this age, weaning can begin and should therefore be accelerated.
Put the seeds, bunches of millets, breeding mash in a manger placed on the ground, accessible to the little ones. You must also remember to put the water fountain on the ground or at the lowest point on the bars. If necessary, make them drink by putting their beaks in the water.
Young zebra finches work by mimicry. It would be wise to put them with one or two females who would help them, see take over feeding for some very maternal. Put only one point of food (a single feeder) to optimize mimicry.
Without this possibility, the risks of losing them will be greater. The weaning stage is essential.

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The mother having died, can the father continue to take care of his young alone ?

I have already had the case, the father can continue to feed the youngsters until they are weaned.
You can help it anyway, by feeding the baby birds yourself with a complete food for hand rearing (type: Nutribird A21). It will also be necessary to help it by accelerating the weaning, in the following way : Put the seeds, bunches of millets, breeding mash in a manger placed on the ground, accessible to the little ones. A single feeding point, so that they see their father eaten, so they will imitate him. You must also remember to put the water fountain on the ground or at the lowest point on the bars. If necessary, make them drink by putting their beaks in the water.



Is it possible to leave several generations together, wouldn't there be a problem of inbreeding in the future ?

Indeed the problem of inbreeding will arise, defects can appear after several generations. It would be necessary either to exchange, or to renew with newcomers.
If you let it, there will be overcrowding, other problems will arise like small fights, etc. Hence the solution of separation to be able to manage this (at home the males and females are separated, I form couples in due time). Where to give in regularly.

How did the mutations appear and how are they preserved and improved ?

We can say that most of the mutations appeared at some point in a breeding, then the breeders maintained and multiplied it. Basically, in nature there is only gray and a few rare exceptions in brown.
However, for example in the case of the whitebreast, it would seem that the first ones were observed and captured in the wild and then perpetuated by the breeders. This is also the case for the brown mutation, others such as the black breast were discovered in breeding in the 1970s.
Then breeders work on the mutation and improve the color, size, type, designs, etc. By making the right matings, by studying the genetics of the mutation.
There are differences in size, shape, etc. between each subject. Breeders will select these traits to achieve the desired result according to a defined standard. This is comparable to the standard of a canine breed for example, which must be approached to hope to win a competition.

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Experienced breeders, does it change the genes of birds ?

There is no genetic manipulation. It is by chosen mating, and often after several years that a breeder manages to obtain his goal (for example to combine several mutations), by following the laws of genetics.

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Is it possible after several matings to return to "pure gray" subjects, knowing that the previous generations are carriers of other mutations ?

That is possible. With a lot of time, knowledge of mutations and their transmissions and determination.
However, there will be many unknowns and a very low percentage chance of having pure gray. Let's imagine a gray mating, one carrying the black chest mutation, the other carrying the black cheek mutation. For this mating, there will be a 25% chance of having a grey. And in the case of multiple carriers, this figure drops to 12.5%. You can make simulations with the genetic software or application that you will find in the section : Tools to download.
Even if a pure gray is spotted, it may be a carrier without bearing any clues to its phenotype. For example, free recessive mutations can reappear after several generations, sometimes without the knowledge of the breeder in a so-called pure strain.

From my point of view, I will therefore speak of a false start. With "handicaps" that will always be difficult to select, even with a very trained eye (With frankness, we call it "Spotlights"). You will not focus on the other equally important characteristics such as pace, size, feather quality, etc. This is not the right path to take in my opinion.
If you are looking for specialization, focus all your concentration on one or at most two mutations. So I'll tell you: Step 1, find the right starting topics carefully. From breeders specializing in the chosen color. Time doesn't have to be an important factor, this step will introduce you to other enthusiasts. If the passion devours you, the kilometers will not scare you.
However, there are exceptions. If you have a zebra finch with one or more exceptional characteristics such as type. So he may be tempted to recover this quality despite being a carrier or mutated. That said, breeders experience this risk more with sex-linked or dominant mutations that are "easier" to control.

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Can you still find wild type zebra finches? If not, can you mate to find a pure strain or original genetics ?

The zebra finch with the original genetic characteristics (colors, designs) corresponds to the gray zebra finch (of non-mutated strain).
By breeding it, mutations appeared and then were cultivated by breeders. They do not exist in the wild (in Australia), except for a few brown subjects which have been observed.
Fortunately, gray farms exist. You can see on the site in the photos section the grays that I breed. You can thus compare the wild zebra finch through the video of the article: Classification, origin, behavior of zebrafinch (wild form) and my photos.
You will find that the color, size, shape, type have been improved. On the other hand, genetically speaking, the wild zebra finch (which is a grey. The gray not being a mutation, because original) and the domesticated gray have the same basis. In case of need for reintroduction, in my opinion, the breeding grays could fulfill this function.
For your 2nd question, having mutated zebra finches and finding the wild type at the genetic level is possible. The method will be different depending on the type of genetic transmission of the mutations of the starting zebra finches. This work would be very time consuming, because a small percentage of getting the wild type in the broods (you also have to know how to spot them according to the phenotype).
Moreover, as said previously, the grays of origin at the genetic level exist in our breedings, there is thus no interest to carry out work back.



With how much and how to start breeding zebra finches ?

At the beginning, the most difficult thing, in my opinion, is to know how to make choices in the mutations that we want to breed. Do you have any preferences? There are articles on mutations and combinations of mutations on the site that can help you with this (including the Illustrated glossary of mutations in zebrafinch).
To answer on the number of couples to start. I would say three pairs or even 4 to breed a so-called classic mutation (brown, masked, pale back, gray). If you start a combination of mutations (which I do not recommend for beginners, but you have to breed what we like) like the black chest orange chest, you will have to do porters (in order not to lose the size for example), so much more torque to start with. Then depending on what ensues, you can add 1 or 2 subjects per year of another blood (another strain), with qualities that can improve your starting strain and so on.
We often start with a few birds, then we go further. If so, I would be happy to help you further.

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How to start a pure gray strain. By avoiding carriers of other mutations ?

To find grays that do not carry other mutations, my first advice would be to first know what mutations the breeder breeds where you plan to acquire them. For example, if he is also raising a recessive mutation, he will have to scrupulously check every detail of the supposedly pure gray zebra finch. Each clue can suggest that he is a carrier (like a cheek protruding upwards for example, a sign most often which shows that one is in the presence of a carrier of black chest). You should also know that a recessive mutation can reappear after several generations.
This requires a keen eye and knowing every detail that could leave one or more clues about the bird's phenotype, which will not 100% rule out possible carriers. Regarding possible carriers of sex-linked mutations, what is certain is that gray females cannot be carriers of masked, brown or pale back.
The best guarantee can only be given to you by the seriousness of the breeder himself. Ask him the right questions, like "Do you keep a breeding book? Can you with this one trace me the ancestry of the bird sold?".
The good breeder will ask you for your purpose and will then guide you. Share your project with him, we always like to know what our Mandarin diamonds are intended for, often for many years, there is a certain relationship of trust to be established in my opinion.
A good way to know and see the birds of the breeders and to meet them in the exhibitions (which take place mainly between the months of September and January). You can also get closer to a club grouping breeders, making sure that it includes zebra finch breeders.

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