In almost all species of finch, the cock and the hen will build their nest together. The expectation to this rule is the Lavender Waxbill and all related waxbills, and some less commonly kept species. Most pet finches will be happy with a ready-made nest box, but if you provide your birds with plenty of material and they will more than happily build their own.
Avoid installing wire and wicker ensts, as these can snag the birds fragile toes. Wood is a good option, but plastic is probably the most practical as it can be cleaned and reused endlessly.
Finches like to add finishing touches and lining to their nests, so some nesting material should always be provided, even if you are providing your birds with a pre-made nesting box. Good materials include strips of low-grade paper such as newspaper or kitchen towel, coconut fibre, and hessian fabric (burlap) cut into 7cm strips. Straw, hay and other vegetation are not recommended as they can also rot and harbour bacteria and fungus. Long human hair and synthetic materials like nylon should also be avoided, as they can lead to toe-snagging or even strangulation.
For birds of breeding age, nesting and chick-rearing is what it's all about
Finch Nest Problems
Some birds may be reluctant to start building a nest, this can be remedied by simply placing a light near the nesting box. Very stubborn may instead require a nest box relocation.
On the flip side of things, you may find that your birds just simply can’t stop nesting. Some Zebra finches and Bengalese finches, for example, will simply keep on bringing new materials to the nest, in extreme cases they can clog up the box and, if eggs or chicks are present, accidently evict the poor residents.
Strawberry finch males - three’s a crowd?
Some species, most notably the Zebra Finch, will build nests for fun. They don’t tend to be all that fussy about the materials, or even the location. A seed tray is usually the prime location for this nest building hobby of theirs. If you don’t want them building nests all over the place, you can simply remove any nesting materials in the cage. Switching to a seed dispenser rather than a standard tray will also be effective, or you could just buy more trays. The nests are rarely suitable for successful breeding, but you should remove the nest or take it apart before it’s fully complete.
The most common cause of abandoned nests is disturbance, this could be from other birds, external loud noises, things that go bump in the night or any over-inquisitive human/cat/dog faces poked up close to the cage. Finches will also leave their eggs if there is a lack of food. This is why it is absolutely crucial to keep seed taurus topped up during nesting season.
It is very rare for a hen to accidentally eject and egg or fledgling. Eggs will be discarded if the hen sees them as intruders in the nest. This could boil down to their natural instinct for things not being right, the egg could be infertile or damaged, or an egg may be discarded if you have touched it without clean gloves. Very stressful situations can also cause this drastic action.
Sometimes a cock may decide that it’s time to start the whole breeding process again before the first set of chicks/eggs are fully developed. If you notice that one of your males is starting his courtship routine again, remove him from the cage before the hen is tempted away from her current brood.