Zebra or Society Finches FAQ

Poephila Guttata or Lonchura Domestica

By Connie S. Soto


How old should my Zebra or Society Finch be to start a family?


A healthy finch should be at least 9 months old to be used for breeding.


How do Zebra or Society Finches select a mate?


The male finch is the one who chooses a hen. He tries to get her attention by hopping and flying around her as he sings his little heart out. He may be the one to woo her but in the end she is the one who actually chooses. If she likes him, she will respond with similar gestures and only then can the courtship ritual begin.


Will the Zebra or Society Finch mate without performing a courtship ritual?


No, they always complete the entire courtship sequence for mating to take place. The ritual is typically repeated several times.


Do Zebra or Society Finches mate for life?


In the wild Zebra and Society Finches most always mate for life. In captivity it is not unusual for finches to choose a mate and stay together even outside of the breeding season.


What should I do if my Zebra or Society Finch has lost its mate?


Finches are very social birds that require the company of other birds for optimum health; therefore it is essential to provide them with another bird. Just like humans a finch mourns the loss of its mate. Although it will take a little bit of time for the finch to accept a new mate they usually do come around and will greatly benefit.


Do Zebra Finches need a nest year round?


This question is more or less a controversial issue for whether finches require a nest outside of the breeding season. In the wild they only use a nest during breeding season. With predators it would not suit them to set up housekeeping so to speak. It seems in captivity that probably half the people provide nests for them all year and half do not.  I believe it is a personal choice and as long as the nests are clean and there are enough nests for the number of birds it is probably okay.


What kind of material for the nest do Zebra or Society Finches prefer?


The most important consideration for nesting material is to understand that some materials can get wrapped around a leg or tangled in their feet. This can cause them a loss of a foot or even the leg. Items that are notorious for problems are material like coconut husk fibers, string or any type of fibers that are too long, they are not good choices. The finches do very well with Jute or Bermuda grass and they need soft material to pad it with. Provide cotton from the pet store not cotton balls from the drug store. Raw cotton pods are fun which you can obtain from pet supply stores. For an inexpensive material, burlap can be cut and shredded and it works quite well as long as they are not cut any longer than 2 inches. Do not use material with dyes in them.


Where do I place the nest for Zebra or Society Finches?


Remember birds feel safe if the nest is placed high in the cage.


How many hours of daylight are required for breeding?


Warm weather, a minimum of 70 degrees and about fourteen hours of daylight typically triggers the start of the breeding season.


How long does incubation take for Zebra or Society Finches?


Once the female sets on the eggs it will take 14 days for them to hatch.


How many eggs will the Zebra or Society Finch lay?


She will lay one egg each day usually 3 to 6 on average. It is not unusual for younger or older birds to lay only 1 or 2 eggs. It is unusual for them to lay as many as 8 eggs but not impossible.


Which Zebra or Society Finch incubates the eggs?


Both parents incubate the eggs.


What should I do if there are no hatchlings after 14 days?


Always wait a total of 20 days before removing the eggs if they did not hatch. This gives the last egg laid time to hatch if any of them are fertile. Only remove the eggs and not the nesting material as the birds will typically try again.


What are they called and when will the nestlings fledge?


When the egg hatches it is known as a hatchling, once it gets its feathers it is then known as a nestling. To fledge means the nestling is ready to leave the nest.  The nestling name is now known as the fledgling which occurs at 21 days old.


How long do the Zebra or Society Finch parents feed the fledglings?


The fledglings start to feed themselves usually when they reach 28 days old and the parents wean them by 5 to 6 weeks.


Do I have to separate the Zebra or Society Finch babies from the parents?


The parents will want to start another brood and so it is important to separate the fledged babies as soon as they can eat on their own.




Klipo & Zypo

By Connie S. Soto June 16, 2012 ©