View Full Version : Zebra Finches and Canaries

03-05-2009, 08:28 PM
I've been doing a little reading... actually, a lot of reading!(blush) Has anyone kept Zebra Finches or Canaries?

03-05-2009, 08:59 PM
I had a whole colony of zebra finches until I got rid of them a week or two ago. What do you need to know?

03-05-2009, 09:07 PM
How would you rate them as a pet, keeping just two males in a 30inch cage? I know there not as interactive as some birds, but noise level is much less. Do they throw food? Is it absolutely necessary to allow them outside the cage?

03-05-2009, 09:10 PM
I have a pair of Zebs :) They're great, make cute little noises. They're like the fish of the bird world, great to watch, but not generally handleable. My pair laid eggs and 5 babies hatched...only one survived, it was their first clutch and it's common for them to not know what to do with their first babies. I'm actually looking to find a home for my baby now :)

03-05-2009, 09:14 PM
How would you rate them as a pet, keeping just two males in a 30inch cage? I know there not as interactive as some birds, but noise level is much less. Do they throw food? Is it absolutely necessary to allow them outside the cage?
30 inch long? They need a cage long enough that they can fly from perch to perch. They aren't birds that you'd have fly around, they're more aviary birds, or cage birds. Some have been hand raised, but that's rare. I have a Hagen vision cage and the food dishes are at the bottom of the cage with a big plastic lip around the bottom so they can't kick food around much.
Any bird will make some mess, and require at least weekly cage cleanings, and daily fresh water and food. They are great to watch tho and I like their song.

03-05-2009, 09:28 PM
I don't mind changing the paper daily....
I'm considering a bird, and I want to make sure I don't get one that I can't take care of properly. I don't want food all over the floor, I don't want it flying around the house, and I don't want screeching or harsh noise. That rules out a LOT of birds. I've been researching Canaries, which I understand, can be kept singly, and don't need outside cage exercise. Some say they could be left alone for an occassional weekend. Some sites say Finches need outside cage time, and need to be in pairs or more. I don't plan on a large aviary, but I would consider a largish cage....Not really interested in breeding, though...

03-05-2009, 09:39 PM
We have finches as well. My daughter has a group of 5 males. I have two Java Rice Sparrows.

I also had a male canary (rescue) for a while (he was ill, and didn't make it).

Again, I love the finches. The all male-group is wonderful. No eggs to worry about, no over-breeding, no calcium-deficient hens, no unwanted babies. Perfect. And if anyone tells you have to have a male/female pair - you do NOT. I'm so against the pointless breeding of animals.

Do you have to let them out? No. For the most part they are hands-off. Can you let them out? Of course. Ours come out weekly for some free flight. But they're in a bedroom. Easy to round-up. I'd never let them loose in the main house. They're so used to coming out that when we begin the round-up they fly back to their cage on their own vs. the indignity of being caught.

Are they messy? Yes. I think they're the worst of all our birds. They fling stuff everywhere. Because they're so small and their metabolic rate is so high they poop every 5-10 minutes.

Are they hard to keep clean? No. It just takes diligence. Daily paper changes, a good cage scrubbing 2X a month will look after the worst of it.

Finches are very social. You can have a single male canary if you pay him enough attention, but otherwise I'd have multiples. Watching them interact with each other is part of the fun.

Food: Pellets, seed mix, fresh fruits and veggies. Fresh water for drinking and bathing. Easy.

03-05-2009, 09:40 PM
....Just wondering Sarah....how big is the cage that you have for your pair?

03-05-2009, 09:45 PM
...before I scare you off, I don't think the mess by one male canary would be that stressful, esp. if you look after it daily...

TRIVIA: Did you know that in the old days, pre-radio, the lady of the house would take her canary - in it's small cage - with her from room-room as she did her chores. The bird was company. So even though it was in a small cage, it still got to experience a change of scenery.

The other bird you might want to consider is a hand-raised female cockatiel. Males can be quite noisy, but females are not. Our hand-raised female, Raffi, prefers to be with us than with her cohort (Izzy). I think she'd be happy as an only bird (although I wouldn't normally recommend that because of the social nature of most birds). But then the bird would need out-time and one-one interaction with you.

03-05-2009, 10:04 PM
Hey, Rue:ssmile: ...Well, Finches are the messiest of all your birds! Back to the drawing board...

OK...My two possibles right now are a Budgie or a Canary...both would be male. (Male Budgies can learn to "talk"...and only the male Canary sings.) You probably are familiar with my concerns with a bird....so which do you think would be the best fit for me?

I like the interaction that Budgies offer, and I'd love to talk to it, and have it enjoy my company....BUT... Although I know people who never let their Budgies out, I'm reading that they need outside exercise. I'm a little worried that I won't want that! I won't mind daily paper changes, a total cage hose down every six months, perches and toys cleaned once a month...

The Canary is quiet, but not as interactive, although I read they can be tamed to some extent. Probably less mess than a Budgie...same cleaning routine...Can be left alone for an occassional weekend...Does not need ouside cage activity...

There would be times when I'd take the bird on a weekend away,, but in the middle of winter, that may not be an option.

Knowing my concerns with the noise level, and the mess, which one, if either would you recommend? I know this is getting "old" but I'd really hate to make a mistake....It would be unfair to the bird, and not good for me...

I've been giving this idea a bit of thought, as I have a birthday soon, and it's a good time to ask hubby...

03-05-2009, 10:08 PM
Sharon...try the male canary. Their singing is awfully cute. One bird isn't that messy all-told. And if you're willing to spend time talking to him and otherwise entertaining him, I think you'll find him quite enjoyable.

I know I did...and I have never been a canary fan - I just took this poor guy in as a rescue...I still miss him.

03-05-2009, 10:13 PM
The cage I have for my pair is 26"long by 13"wide, by 19"tall I believe. I wouldn't go any smaller...I'd actually prefer a bit larger...but I got this cage in brand new condition for $15 off Kijiji, so it'll do till I get a larger one. I wouldnt' keep more than 2 finches in this cage. Some ppl say you can keep up to 6 in it, but there's no way, the birds would get frustrated and peck at eachother.
You can definitely keep two males, and yes, it is best to keep at least 2 finches together because they are so social. You could also keep 2 canaries.
Budgies do best with out of cage time, especially if you are only keeping one. However, I personally find bugs to be very noisy...and it's an almost constant chatter. they don't have the ear piercing screech that some birds to, but their noise is constant.
I have a female Tiel and she is very quiet...BUT she wants to be my constant companion, so if you want a bird that doesn't come out of the cage, then a tiel isnt' for you.
Honestly, I think the Vision cage is great if you want to minimize seed scatter, if you use the food dishes provided, it's pretty much impossible for them to kick seed out of the cage. If I were you, male finches or canaries in a vision cage would be the way to go. I think canaries are generally a bit noisier than finches, but they have more of a "song" than finches do I think...tho I've never kept canaries.

03-05-2009, 10:20 PM
OK...Thanks guys!!!thumbs2: I'll have to wait for an out of town trip, as we don't have bird shops here...Heck, we don't even have fish shops now! I'm assuming Canaries will be available.....I've got notes made on everything, so I think I'm all set!

Do you think a canary will ever be tamed enough to finger perch, and maybe eat from my hand...if I spend enough time encouraging it?

03-05-2009, 10:22 PM
maybe eat from your hand, but unless it's been hand fed as a baby, it's doubtful that it will be tame enough to carry around the house. My uncle had one years ago that was handfed, and it was tame, but u generally have to buy them taht way. Someone on kijiji near me was selling 2 handtame zebs recently :)

03-05-2009, 10:25 PM
That depends.

Java Rice sparrows can be hand-tamed quite easily if you get them young enough.

I imagine you can do something similar with canaries, but then you'd need to get one from a breeder that had worked with them.

Most of the canaries you'd get from a pet store are not handled enough, since they're mass-bred.

Having said that though. If you get one, and work with it enough, you might still get a level of 'tameness'.

My canary was handled daily because I had to medicate him. He never liked it, but didn't fight being caught either (just resigned himself to it, poor pookie)...so with enough time and gentle handling a lot is possible.

03-05-2009, 10:49 PM
I'm on a bird discussion board a lot like this one called www.tailfeathers.com :) It's great, you may learn a lot there :)

03-05-2009, 10:57 PM
Yes. I'm on another. There are several good ones out there - just need to find a group of folks you like.

03-05-2009, 11:07 PM
Thanks again!!!thumbs2:

03-06-2009, 03:33 AM
I had a pair of zebra finches a few years ago, and found them very pleasant. They don't become tame and kinda do their own little thing without interacting. Can't be let out of the cage because they're not very bright and would just get scared and fly into a wall, but if the cage is big enough that's not a prob.

They're not into toys, they get more stimulation from being in a group and interacting with each other. Sound level is very nice, no screaming like parrots. I didn't find them messy at all, cleaned the cage about once a week or so.

I'm not sure if they breed when they don't have a breeding box... Ours had a breeding box and laid a couple eggs and we sold the babies to a pet store. They are happier in groups of at least 4, but I don't know if you could keep all males or all females, they might prefer to be in pairs. Easy enough to google them tho:)

I'd definitely recommend them if you want quiet birds, but if you wanna interact with them they are not the bird for you.

03-06-2009, 11:33 AM
Thanks Mvjnz...:ssmile: