Santa Clara Finch Club
Getting Started with Finches
Getting Started | Setting Up Your First Cage | Cages | Cleaning | Food | Heat | Health | Light | Record-keeping | Routine | What's Next
Read up on info about the type of finch you are considering, and keep a few things in mind:
Finches are a pretty social bird, and they will not do very well if you only have a single bird. Most varieties will do better in a pair or threesome or more if you have a large aviary.
It helps if you are a first time birdkeeper to join a club, you can learn a lot from meeting other people who are keeping similiar birds. Everyone does it a little differently, you can get ideas and learn what to avoid. Joining the Santa Clara Finch Club or another Birdkeeping Club in your local area is usually a great first step. Also the National Finch & Softbill Society (NFSS) publishes a bimonthly Journal full of useful current information for finchkeepers. Your can purchase a DVD of all the backissues of their NFSS Journal - this is a wonder reference on birdkeeping. Check out Finch Friends Aviary and see their How To section.
Roy Beckham, a local expert bird photographer has compiled a lot of useful species info & photos on finches on his website: eFinch.com. He also curates a great Facebook page by the same name.
Once you read up on what type of Finch you would be interested in raising, select the largest flight cage you can provide the space for - most finches love to fly a lot, with Lady Gouldian Finches being an exception to that. When selecting a cage do not choose one of the tall square cages often sold in pet stores - this is not a good choice for Finches - they need room to fly to stay healthy. A common size cage for 2 birds is 30"wide.x18tallx18"deep. Our preferred cage size for finches is picture here: http://finchfriends.org/cages.html 58"x18"x43"H
Our Second best choice - and what most Finch keepers use is the 30"x18"x18" divided flight cage. These are always available at the Bird Marts in our area and usually run for about 25.00. Finding one of these with a removable divider is nearly impossible at local pet stores. Wait for the next Bird Mart to buy one. Having a removable divider in the middle is a great option for cage cleaning - you can shoo the birds into one half put in the divider and clean the empty half, then reverse the process to clean the other half.
Gouldians can become fairly sedentary birds and will get overweight easily if you do not control their diet.
Zebra Finches beep a lot during daytime hours, so go listen to a zebra pair and make sure their "song" will not annoy you and your family.
Male Society Finches have a bit of a song and dance when they are of mating age, and will display in their dance also as a sign of territorial "this is my perch" behavior. Female Societies have a distinct chirping noise, not too loud, but not a full song like their males.
Finches will breed quickly and often if they are in a mixed gender cage - so consider just keeping either females or males when you are starting out until you learn how to care for your birds.
There is a lot of great info on food choices at Doug Taylor's Gulf Coast Finches website - look at his Green Day Diet. Easy to prepare yourself and your birds will be really healthy and happy with it. Also see http://finchfriends.org/food.html
Once you have purchased your finches, quarantine them from any other birds you have already at home, this is for both the birds you already have and the new finches benefit. Read up on Quarantine: What and Why here: http://santaclarafinchclub.org/articles/quarantine.html
Why buy from a breeder? Once you compare the state of health of birds from a breeder to that of finches from any pet store, you will se the visible difference. Look for pink healthy looking feet, clean and straight shiny feathers, clear beak and eyes - no scales on the beak, feet or legs, no builtup skin areas around the eyes. Go on a field trip someday to look at the finch enclosures at any pet store: too many birds crammed in too small of space with nearly no room to fly, poor feather condition, scaley feet - the birds are often puffed up and not well looking birds.
If you are ready to get your finches, contact a breeder from our list or attend the next local Bird Mart (listed on our home page)
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