. Zebra finch
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- An Australian Finch
(Click on photo to enlarge)
- Scientific Name: Taeniopygia guttata (or
previously Poephila guttata)
- Common Name/s:
- Sub Species in country / area of origin:
1 sub-species kept in Australia. Another sub-species occurs on
islands to the north-west of Australia.
- Origin / Distribution: Most of
Australia except coastal areas. Mainly found in the arid centre of
the continent. Not found in Tasmania.
- Habitat In Wild: Diverse:- tropics
to southern Australia, including arid inland areas. They have
adapted to farmlands but not many are found in urban areas.
- Status In Wild: Common. The most
commonly found finch in Australia.
- Status In (Australian) Captivity:
- Age To Sexual Maturity: about 3
months. Breeding should not start before 6 months of age.
- Adult plumage: attained at about 3
- Best breeding years (estimate):
12 months to 5th year.
- Lifespan (estimate): approx. 7
- Sexing: Monomorphic
- Mutations: Many colour mutations.
Also comes in a crested form. Many clubs/ societies have
formed that specialize only in Zebra finches and their colour
- Availability: Possibly the most
commonly available bird in captivity. Genetically pure
"normal" colour birds are becoming hard to acquire.
Most Pet shops and bird dealers have a range of colours in stock.
Special Zebra finch societies can supply show quality birds and
- Temperament: Perfect beginners
bird. Easy to sex, easy to feed and easy to breed. Will breed in a
"canary" cage or in an aviary. Ideal bird for a colony breeding
collection. Will breed year round if conditions are suitable.
- Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: -
Normal colour (Approx.) $20
- Description Of Adults:
- Length: Approx. 100 mm (or approx. 4 inches)
- Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer
photo top right.
(Click on above photo to enlarge)
- Weight: Approx. 16 - 18 gms (or just over 1/2 oz)
The Zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and the Double Bar finch
(Taeniopygia bichenovii) are the two members of the family Taeniopygia.
notes on "Finches - Australian" web page
and use in conjunction with details
outlined on this page.
Level Of Knowledge Required:
Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.
Government Regulations &
By-Laws: Refer to "Government Laws"
Housing Requirements: Click on "Housing birds"
web page for general details on the housing
of Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.
The Zebra finch will breed well in all sizes of
aviaries. Zebra finches that are bred to produce specific colour
mutations are often bred in cabinet style (canary breeding cages) with
They do not need plants in the aviary
but natural branches are the preferred choice for perches.
Diet / Feeding: Click on "Feeding birds"
web page for general details on the
nutrition of Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this
One of the easiest and least fussy
feeders. Basic finch mix along with seeding grasses and some green
foods will suffice. They do not require live foods. This is
a minimal diet and may not give the best results in health or breeding. The next paragraph is more preferable and gives better results and
In a mixed species collection they will
eat a lot of what is offered for the other finches. They will eat
a good quality finch mix, seeding grasses, some fruits (e.g. apple) and
some leafy green vegetables along with any soft-food . Live food is
beneficial during the breeding season. Small mealworms are ideal. Sprouted
or soaked seed if available.
Basic seed mix should include Canary
seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.
A basic overview only.
- Roosting nest: No, but will
use the roosting nests of other species.
- Nesting months: All year
round if given suitable conditions.
- Nesting receptacles: Probably the least fussy bird and will accept almost any receptacle
they are given.
- Nest: Both parents
build a dome shaped nest
with a side entrance and the nest is made of grasses and other
soft materials. Nest is lined
with feathers and soft fine grasses.
- Who incubates the eggs: Hen
during the night, both share during the day.
Nest is usually at the mid to high level
in the aviary. Parent birds generally reuse the nest
for subsequent clutches. Adequate new nest material must be
available for the birds to refurbish the old nest or build a new nest
for the next clutch. The nest box can be removed and the old
soiled material removed and the birds will quickly build a new nest.
Most Zebra finch breeders use a nest box that has a hinged lid so they
can easily inspect the nest and get access to the young when the young
are old enough to have a leg ring put on them. Leg rings are used
so accurate records can be kept of each birds parentage and genetic
More details on
and a selection of finch nest photos
can be located on the "nests", "finch nests"
and "finch nest photos"
web pages. Click on "Up" then "nests" then
"finch nests" and "finch nests photos" in
the navigation bars.
Egg Colour White. Clutch/s
per year 3 - 4. Eggs per nest 4 - 7. Incubation
approx 13 - 14 days. Fledge approx. 21 days.
Independent approx. another 21 - 28 days. The young may return to the nest for
about one week after fledging.
Birds kept in a cage benefit if they can
be placed in an aviary between breeding sessions so they can get more
exercise and take rest from breeding. No nests or nesting
materials should be in that aviary.
Zebra finches have a very high fertility
rate and may have one of the highest fertility rates of any finch.
In an aviary it is generally safe to leave the young in the same aviary
after they become independent. In an aviary of multiple pairs it is
advisable to remove the young birds soon after they become fully independent.
This will prevent immature birds mating with adult birds or their
parents. Young birds (when they become fully independent)
must be removed when bred in a cage.
Cock birds in a colony are not
monogamous and will mate with other hens (and mess up the predicted
colours). They will hybridize with a wide range of finches.
Zebra finches can be used as foster
parents for some other species of finches.
Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be
covered on this web site. It is too complex and diverse in nature to be
attempted here. Refer "Specific References" as listed below and
"General References" listings.
Refer "Avian Health Issues"
web page for information and references.
- Worming and parasite control and Quarantine
requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to
require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web
site. Refer above "Avian Health Issues"
web page option.
- Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep
updating your knowledge and skills.
General References: Refer to references listed on "Book
References" web page.
- A/A Vol 59 No. 9 Sept 2005 Page 193-195.
- A/A Vol 58 No. 1 Jan 2004 Page 16-17.
- A/A Vol 56 No. 9 Sept 2002 Page 207-208
- A/A Vol 55 No. 7 July 2001 Page148-153
- A/A Vol 55 No. 3 Mar 2001 Page 66-67
- A/A Vol 54 No. 8 Aug 2000 Page 180-182
- A/A Vol 53 No. 7 July 1999 Page 143-144
- A/A Vol 42 No. 9 Sep 1988 Page 216-217
- A/A Vol 42 No. 7 Jul 1988 Page 161-162
- A/A Vol 39 No. 12 Dec 1985 Page 289-290
- A/A Vol 36 No. 9
Sept 1982 Page 195-196 (Inc photo)
- A/A Vol 33 No. 10 Oct 1979 Page 167 (Inc
- A/A Vol 33 No. 2 Feb 1979 Page 24-27 (
- A/A Vol 32 No. 5 May 1978 Page 65-66
- A/A Vol 32 No. 4 Apr 1978 Page 56-57
- A/A Vol 31 No. 6 Jun 1977 Page
86-92 (Inc photos) * by Bill Gordon
- A/A Vol 28 No. 7 Jul 1974 Page
- A/A Vol 20 No 7 Jul 1966 Page 98-100 (Pied).
- A/A Vol 19 No 3 Mar 1965 Page 37-38.
- A/A Vol 17 No 3 Mar 1963 Page 50-51 (Inc colour plate).
- A/A Vol 15 No. 11 Nov 1961 Page
142-143 (Inc colour plate).
- A/A Vol 13 No 3 Mar 1959 Page 51-52.
- A/A Vol 12 No 9 Sept 1958 Page 114.
- A/A Vol 12 No 8 Aug 1958 Page 111.
- A/A Vol 12 No 7 Jul 1958 Page 93.
- A/A Vol 12 No 4 Apr 1958 Page 54-56.
- A/A Vol 12 No 5 May 1958 Page 71-72.
- A/A Vol 11 No 11 Nov 1957 Page 172.
- A/A Vol 11 No 1 Jan 1957 Page 6.
- A/A Vol 10 No 1 Jan 1956 Page 6-7.
- A/A Vol 6 No 8 Aug 1952 Page 89-90.
- A/A Vol 4 No 12 Dec 1950 Page 143.
- A/A Vol 4 No 11 Nov 1950 Page 134.
- A/A Vol 1 No 4 Apr 1947.
- The Bulletin No 20, Jun 1944 Page 2 - 3 (Cultivation of the
- The Bulletin No 3, Sept 1942 Page 3 (Colour breeding).
- Australian Birdkeeper
- ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 738-740 (Zebra
finches in Europe).
- ABK Vol 8 Issue 7. Feb-Mar 1995 Page 325-328
- ABK Vol 5 Issue 4. Aug-Sept 1992 Page 186-187
- ABK Vol 4 Issue 7. Feb-Mar 1991 Page 321-323
- ABK Vol 3 Issue 5. Oct-Nov 1990 Page 198-200
- ABK Vol 2 Issue 7. Feb-Mar 1989 Page 228-229
- ABK Vol 1 Issue 6. Dec-Jan 1989 Page 205-207
- ABK Vol 1 Issue 5. Oct-Nov 1988 Page 149, 158
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