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15 Interesting Facts About Finches That You Should Know About

Facts about finches

Do you plan to add a finch into your aviary?

These tiny birds are pretty popular as human companions.

But there are some facts about finches that you should know about before buying one.

In this list, we compiled the most:

  • mind-blowing talents
  • striking features
  • and beautiful qualities of finches that sets it apart from other birds

We’ll also reveal deal-breaker facts about their health and social behavior that you need to ponder.

If you’re currently a finch owner or planning to be one, you’ll highly benefit from this listicle we’ve curated for you.

It can help you determine whether finches are the right birds for you.

Now let’s start with an unsurprising but essential fact that you should learn about these birds.

Finches infographics

What Are Finches?

First, we all know finches are birds. But to narrow it down, even more, finches are very tiny birds (they don’t grow longer than 10 inches at the biggest).

They are the smallest pet birds that eat seeds and nuts. If you look at their beak, it is called a conical bill, a shorter bill designed by evolution to crack open and eat seeds and nuts.

The most common pet finch is the zebra finch, which we will dive into in a bit…

They are great pets, so let’s get into those facts!

A beautiful house finch

Common Facts About Finches

1. There are Hundred Types of Finches in the World

There are many finch varieties worldwide, and each has different characteristics and personalities.

But not all of them can be kept as pet birds since the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects them, including the American goldfinch and other wild finches.

Good thing there are domesticated finches that you can choose from.

They include the following.

Facts About Finches and Their Domesticated Types:

Zebra finch - The Most Popular

Zebra finch – The Most Popular Finch

This bird is not flashy but elegant and resilient, so it rightly deserves the designation as the most popular finch.

It earned its name because of its tail’s appearance that looks similar to a zebra’s black and white stripes.

But most parts of its body are brown, and its belly is white with some chestnut patches on its cheeks and wings.

It’s very territorial and might become aggressive when there are other birds around.

But overall, its’ friendly and active and will surely bring you joy.

Strawberry finch - The Most Striking finch

Strawberry finch – The Most Striking

This mesmerizing bird looks amazingly beautiful and distinct because it looks like a strawberry in a bird’s shape.

Their red coat in its body, black coat in its wings and tail tip, and white spots perfectly complement each other.

The catch is that they’re very light, even when they’re already mature.

But these finches have the best songs of all types of birds, with some bird owners claiming it sounds like a flute.

That’s beauty and talent right there.

Owl finch

Owl Finch – The Most Interesting

True to its name, this bird looks like an owl. It has a white face, a brown body, with a white chest.

But the most distinct feature in its plumage is the black line that crosses the bottom of its face and chest.

They can be excellent pets, but they’re rare and a bit pricey, with others paying around $100 for this tiny bird.

Gouldian Finch- The Most Flashy Finch

Gouldian Finch- The Most Flashy 

This magnificent bird boasts an orange beak with a purple chest, yellow belly, green wings, and the back part of its body.

Aside from its colorful features, what makes them even more desirable is their relatively passive character.

If you plan on raising different finches on the same cage, you won’t have a problem with them.

2. They’re Among the Smallest Pet Birds Kept As Pets

There are many small pet birds in the world, but finches are among the smallest of them all.

Most finches measure 4 inches in length from the beak tip to the tail tip, and they weigh less than 1 ounce.

Fun facts about finches and their cage

3. They May Be Small, But They Need a Spacious Cage

Despite their minuscule size, finches need a spacious birdcage than most types of parrots.

The reason is that they need to be able to fly not just to entertain themselves but also to exercise.

So, when choosing an enclosure or flight cage for them, be sure to pick one that offers them the opportunity to spread their wings and soar.

Fun fact About Goldfinches' flock

4. Goldfinches’ flock is called “charm.”

Have you seen some goldfinches in your backyard?

These popular backyard birds are almost everywhere in the US, and the collective pronoun for their group is “charm.”

These brightly-colored birds are photogenic and visually pleasing, but they can be pretty grumpy.

So, why are they called a charm?

Well, ‘charm’ came from the old English word c’irm, which describes their twittering song, not their personality.

Facts About Finches and Their Relationship With Their Humans

Facts About Finches and Their Relationship With Their Humans

5. Finches Don’t Like Being Handled

Another interesting fact about finches is that, unlike other birds, finches do not crave human attention.

They may develop the habit of observing their humans, but they don’t feel comfortable when they’re being held with hands.

So if you don’t want your finch to feel frightened and stressed, do them a favor by not holding them unless for medical purposes.

Facts About Finches

6. They Prefer Their Own Kind Over Humans

Unlike other birds who love to socialize and form a special bond with their humans, finches thrive more if they’re with their fellow finches.

Yes, they prefer the company of other finches to humans.

That’s why it’s best to keep them in pairs or small flocks.

That can help them become emotionally and mentally stable and prevent the development of ferocious behaviors.

Facts About Finches and Their Health

Facts About Finches and Their Health

7. Finches are Prone to Air-sac Mite Infection

This condition is caused by air sac mites that infect birds by entering their respiratory tract.

They can block the bird’s air passage that can lead to suffocation and death.

Symptoms of air mite infection in finches and other birds

The symptoms of this condition are not easy to distinguish in mild cases. But you might notice that your bird becomes less vocal, and their feather quality deteriorates.

They may also look fluffed up and less active.

In advanced cases, the symptoms are:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • squeaking (high-pitched noise
  • weakness
  • wet nostrils
  • excessive salivation
  • tail bobbing
  • weigh loss
  • clicking sounds when breathing
  • breathing with mouth open

The symptoms are worse in younger birds and become severe when the bird flies or does other activities.

Causes of Air-sac Mite Infection in Finches

A finch bird can get the air sac mite infection through close contact with other birds who have been previously infected with the parasite.

The disease can also be transmitted when a small amount of moisture containing the mites is released into the air through coughing or sneezing.

Another way to spread the virus is through contaminated drinking water.

Diagnosis of Air-sac Mite Infection in Finches

There are several ways to detect air sac mites in live birds.

The first option is to swab the bird’s trachea and examine the tissues.

After swabbing, the mites may become visible to the naked eye or under a microscope.

They’ll appear as dark dots with the size of a pinhead, through transillumination of the trachea in a dark setting.

Wetting the bird’s feathers above his trachea with a small amount of alcohol may also help you see the mites.

However, just because the mites aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t present.

In some situations, a diagnosis is made when a bird responds to treatment.

Treatments for Air-sac Mite Infection

The most common medications given to infected birds are Ivermectin(in the US) and Ivomec(in Europe).

These medications are toxins, so you need to be careful not to provide too much of these because it can lead to additional health problems.

And in a worst-case scenario, it can cause death.

Therefore, you need to consult your vet to ensure your bird will receive the right amount of treatment.

Note that too little medication won’t effectively treat the infection, and too much can cause too many mites to die off at once.

And that can cause blockage in their respiratory system.

Facts About Finches' Innate Qualities

Facts About Finches’ Innate Qualities

8. Finches Are Quite Pets Compared With Parrots

Finches vocalize like other pet birds, but their voices are tiny compared to large birds like parrots.

So, they would make excellent pets for those who live in apartments and condominiums.

But don’t underestimate their tiny chips because many finch owners say that their soft vocalization is soothing to the ears.

That’s why they love spending time in the same room with their finch.

There’s a free concert from nature right there.

9. Some Finches Can Act As Foster Parents

Most finches are social, but perhaps the most social of them are the Society finch. The name itself explains why.

This finch acts as a foster parent by raising chicks from other species.

And if you’re wondering how this type of finch looks like, well, it seems a bit like a sparrow.

It features white bellies with a brown backside. This finch doesn’t look as gorgeous as other finches, but its friendly nature makes it a desirable pet.

House finch nest with pale blue eggs

Facts About Finches’ Eggs

10. Female house finches’ eggs are pale blue

Perhaps the most exciting fact about house finches is their pale blueish-green eggs with few specklings.

They owe their egg color to the bile pigment’s oxidized form called biliverdin that contributes blue tone to the eggs.

This pigment is deposited as the eggs develop.

On the other hand, the speckles are caused by the protoporphyrin compound that brings red, brown colors and speckles.

The balance in their egg’s color comes with some advantages because the tint of dark colors like blue can protect the embryo from intense light and harmful UV radiation.

On the flip side, dark coloration increases light absorbance and makes the interior heat up, just like the dark car effect.

Therefore, in sunlit nesting environments, less pigmentation will enhance the harmful effect of transmittance, while more pigmentation would increase the damaging effect of absorbance to the embryo.

To say it simply, blue eggs help regulate the sunlight’s effect on developing chicks.

Since house finches lay eggs from late March to late July, they’re prone to sun exposure.

But the composition of their eggs can make the mothers feel at ease.

Scientific Facts About Finches' Color

Scientific Facts About Finches’ Color

11. Male house finches’ rose-colored heads and breasts are caused by their diet

Male house finches’ color varies depending on their diet, not regional differences.

But most adults have rosy red coloring around their face and upper breast with streaky brown back, tail, and belly.

It owes its beautiful red plumage to the carotenoid pigments called echinenone that come from the food they’re eating like berries and produces a red color.

12. Female house finches prefer red-colored males

Most female finches are grayish-brown with blurry streaks and indistinct markings.

But they prefer to mate with red-colored males.

It’s not just because they’re beautiful. But because their head’s color indicates that they can provide the correct type of food for their young chicks.

Yellow finch perching

13. House finches’ with yellow heads lack in echinenone

Aside from echinenone, there are two other types of carotenoid pigments – Beta-carotene, which produces yellow to orange colors, and isocryptoxanthin, which creates orange plumage.

Therefore, yellow feathering in house finches’ heads shows that it feeds on a different food or diet from the rose-colored ones.

It’s a normal diet-related color variation, but females still prefer rose-colored males as we said earlier.

Fun Facts About Finches and Their Singing Prowess

Beautiful Bullfinch

14. Bullfinches are intelligent enough to learn to sing human melodies accurately.

Here’s another mind-blowing fact about finches.

According to a new study by the late Nicolai Jürgen and academics from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany, bullfinches learn to sing tunes precisely from human trainers.

They discovered that these birds can successfully match the note sequence they hear to the learned tune in their brain as soon as the human starts whistling again.

When the human partner stops whistling, they anticipate singing the next part of the taught tune and vocalizing it appropriately.

So, the scientists conclude that Bullfinches can cope with the complicated and challenging cognitive challenges of detecting a human song in all of its rhythmic and melodic intricacies.

And have the power to learn the song and sing it appropriately.

Singing Chaffinch

15. Chaffinches have different regional accents

Here’s another fact about a type of finch that can be considered a songbird.

In a study of 723 male chaffinches from 12 different populations across European mainlands, Canaries, and the Azores, US scientists discovered a fantastic bird discovery.

They found out that the further the birds move, the more unpredictable their notes become.

It leads them to conclude that birds develop various ‘accents’ in their song depending on where they live.

Spring finch- A beautiful song bird

Bonus FAQ on Facts About Finches

How smart are finches?

Not all finches are of the same intelligence, however, the zebra finches just like budgies can understand basic grammar. This is nothing short of amazing!

This makes zebra finches one of the few species outside of humans that have this level of abstract understanding!

I should also make a point that birds that live among humans usually have a higher intellect when it comes to solving puzzles compared to wild birds.

Finches and other birds: pigeons, domestic fowl, and birds of prey are frequently used in studies of non-human intelligence because of their “intellect”.

How fast can a finch fly?

The zebra finch is among the fastest flying finches.

Its flight speed has been able to top out at 7.8 mph or 12.6 kph.

Facts About Finches: Final Takeaways

So, that wraps our list of interesting facts about finches you should know about if you’re planning to purchase one.

Remember that before taking on the journey of becoming a bird pet owner, you need to learn about bird hygiene first.

That can help ensure your bird’s health and safety and your family as well.

It’s worth noting as well that these birds aren’t as cuddly as other birds.

But if you’re not ready for the demands of a parrot, these birds can be an excellent option.

Some finches can be aggressive. So, it would be best to consult an experienced finch breeder first before mixing finch species in an aviary.

And even if they thrive on a pellet-based diet, they still need fresh greens and veggies like vegetables, grubs, egg food, and some seeds.

Do you want to keep a finch as a pet?

If you do, what interesting facts about finches piqued your interest? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

READ NEXT: Quick Guide for Beginner Bird Owners – 8 Bird Facts You Should Know

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