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Life With a Tame Finch

Written by Lindsey, bird lover

So you want your own tame finch -- it is possible! This article talks about my experiences with my tame finch, Beeper.

Handraising

Well, the only way I know how to tame a finch is by handraising. Before handfeeding, please do a lot of research, as it is very complicated and potentially deadly for the bird if not done completely correctly. These next few paragraphs are just general guidelines -- an overview -- and thus you need to know a lot more and in a lot more detail. I would not recommend just pulling a finch from its nest, but if you have an abandoned baby, those are the best candidates for handraising. To keep them warm before they have feathers you need a brooder -- this can be fancy or just a shoe box. A heating pad needs to be kept in the bottom of the box; after, place a canary nest or small tupperware container full of tissue paper or toilet paper. These little guys poop a lot so the tissue or toilet paper needs to be changed every day. The setting on the heating pad needs to be kept on low, and it's best to start off at 96 to 99 degrees fahrenheit for younger chicks and slowly lower the temperature. To get started you need a very small pipette or syringe. Remember, these birds have tiny mouths and with one mistake they can aspirate and die. Do not feed unless they are begging. It is also best to only feed a drop or two at a time. I used kaytee exact handfeeding formula and followed the directions on the back which read:

  • Hatch-2 days: 1 part formula, 6 parts water.
  • 2-5 days: 1 part formula, 2-3 parts water.
  • 5-weaning: 1 part formula, 1 1/3-2 parts water.

You must give your bird the food at 102-110 degrees ferenhiet. You can either use the microwave to acheive this which I don't recommend, or you can use hot water from the sink which is what I used. You cannot reuse handfeeding formula; you must make fresh formula every time.

Handfeeding schedule

  • 1-5 days: feed every 30 minutes to an hour.
  • 5-9 days: every 1/2 hour to 1 hour.
  • 10-20 days: every 2-3 hours during the day and just a few feedings at night; also, start providing millet at this age.
  • 20-weaned: feed as needed.

Handfed finches such as my own Beeper can take longer than a parent-raised finch to wean but when they are ready they will just stop begging. Beeper took 10 weeks to wean; that is a long time for a finch, which normally take 4 weeks when raised by their parents.

Cage

When your finch is pretty much feathered out you can put him in his own cage. The bigger the better. Your finch will spend a lot of time in his cage and keeping his cage big will help make him happy. Cages with non guillotine doors are prefered, as your finch will try to fly out to you when you open the door, so doors that hang out are better. A guillotine door can crush a tiny finch. Also, 1/2 inch bar spacing is best -- any bigger and they can get their tiny heads stuck. You may find that your finch is messy...most finches are. The best method to keeping your floor clean is to use seed skirts around the bottom of the cage so seeds don't go flying all over your house. Your bird also needs different kinds of perches such as rope and different sizes of natural branches. Concrete perches are also good for wearing down their toenails.

Toys

I have found that my finch loves toys. His favorites are made out of colorful string and ribbon. Swings are also great and anything with a colorful paper clip or a bell attached to it is a favorite. Finches don't destroy toys like parrots so they aren't going to play with some of the larger parrot toys. Some toys from the store are great for finches such as the small budgie-sized ones. Also, you must have a large water bowl for your finch as they love to take baths. Toys are a necessity in your tame finch's cage. They keep them occupied when they aren't able to be out with you.

Dangers

Finches are very tiny and can easily be hurt or get lost in your home. I would recommend not having the fan on while they are out. Keep windows and doors closed; no cooking while they are out, and keep larger pets away. Finches love to hop around on the ground and search for goodies. Watch where you step while they are on the floor and make sure to tell others in your household to do the same. Another danger to a finch are guests. A finch flying around and landing on someone can cause them to swat at it and they could even hurt it. Just make sure to let everyone know that your finch is out and they may have a visitor landing on them. Also have a bird-proofed home -- do not leave any large mirrors, windows, or glass doors uncovered. Your finch can fly into them and hurt himself. Make sure there are no small places that your finch can crawl into and get stuck.

Interaction

A tame finch will interact with people more than most other species of birds. They are a joy to have around. They must have several hours of out of cage time every day to be happy. You will find that they enjoy to eat off your plate and drink out of your glass so if you aren't eating something good for a finch, keep him in his cage until you are finished eating. Your finch will enjoy just sitting on your shoulder or cupped in your hand while you watch TV, or he will preen your hair and peck the buttons on your TV remote control. Some even love to have their little head and back scritched. Also, it is very important to teach your finch at a young age how to step up. This can be done by just holding your finger up to his chest and saying step up. After a while some finches will even fly to your finger when you say "step up," even from long distances. Finches are curious about everything which makes them a great interactive pet.

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