Finch Food

As you probably already know, seed is the base of all finches’ diets. Both dried and sprouted seeds will go down well with your birds. At least 50% of your finches diets should be made up of seeds. Therefore, a good seed mix is crucial. All this being said, seed alone cannot form a complete diet, even if you take into consideration the fortified seed mixes available at pet spores. Your birds will require a balanced diet of dry seed, sprouting seed, shoots, fresh fruit and veg and even a little bit of animal protein to lead a healthy life.


bird seed
A good seed mix forms the basis of your pet finch's diet

Your finch supplier should always let you know if there are any special dietary requirements that your birds will require. You can always ask your bird supplier any questions. More information can be found in the Finch Breeds guide on the Omlet website.

Feeding Finches

The following paragraphs may make finch-feeding sound complicated, but it really isn't. Infact, the basics are really simple: finches will get around 50% of their dietary requirements from a good seed mix. This seed mix needs to include both sprouting and dried seeds. The other 50% of your finches dietary requirements will be obtained from fresh food, combined with protein supplements. This is pretty much all that you need to remember and as long as your seed is well sourced and your food fresh, you’ll be just fine. Variation in your bird’s diets will prevent fussiness and make their lives just a little more interesting as they explore or look forward to different foods.As well as good food, finches need a constant source of water. This can simply be provided in a bowl or a special made drinkers that clip onto the side of cages. Water should ideally be changed everyday.


Gouldian finch and zebra finch feeding
Gouldian finch and zebra finch feeding

How Should I Feed My Birds?

There is no precise answer here, as much like humans each bird has their own dietary needs. This being said, in general a bird will eat between a quarter and half their bodyweight. The most important factor here is balance, a diet that consists of only fatty millet seeds will only lead to obesity and an early death!

Each bird will have their own tastes, some may prefer seeds whilst others may enjoy fresh food more. The guidelines in this section of the guide will give you a good idea of what the ideal balance of fresh to dried food, though as a bird owner you will need use your own judgement based on the birds appearance.

Your birds should not be fat, if you notice that some birds are looking overweight, it will need to change up their diets. Fatty seeds such as millet and sugary fruits both make for a great treat, but should not be over-indulged on. Underfeeding can also be a problem, though it’s a little harder to spot. If you happen to notice that your birds are scrabbling through trays of seed husks or scouring the bottom of the tray for a little food, it may be a sign that you are not giving them enough food. If you get the balance right, there will always be a little bit of seed left in the trays after your birds are done feeding. If all the fresh food disappears quickly, start feeding a little more.

When it comes to mixed aviaries, feeding becomes a bit more challenging as you can never tell who is eating what. It will pay off to spend a while watching your birds as they feed so you can get a general idea of which birds are eating what. You will also see which birds are greedy, fussy, omnivorous, domineering etc.

Whilst aviary mixes can be bought from most pet stores they can be a little more expensive, though there are ways of saving money without reducing the quality of your bird’s feed. Buying in bulk. All the seed will eventually be used and a 100lbs bag will always work out cheaper than say a 10lbs bag.

Canary drinking water
In addition to their food, all cage birds need a supply of fresh water

Canary and Finch Pellets

Though as of late they have ,ost some of their popularity, bird pellets are still used by many breeders, particularly in the USA. High-quality bird pellets will provide all the nutrition your finches will need, though unless your birds have been raised eating the stuff, it’ll never be as interesting to them as a standard seed mix. Weaning a bird from seed to pellet is very hard.

And as another word of warning, some commercially available pellets may have preservatives or coloring added, something your finches will be better off without. Pellets won't be needed as long as you are providing your birds with a balanced and varied diet.

If you do decide to go for pellets, they will make up around 75% of your bird’s dietary requirements.

Mineral Supplements

A cuttlefish bone should be added to every cage as they are a vital source of extra calcium for your birds. Generally, cuttlefish bones will be sold with a clip for attaching the bone to the side of the cage.


Cuttlebone
Cuttlefish bone is a good source of calcium

A mineral block will also make for a good addition to your cages. Whilst these are usually marketed for budgies and larger parrots, finches will still benefit from the vitamin and mineral top-up. Birds will always take as much as they need, and this in turn will eliminate the need for dosage calculations if you are adding supplement to the birds water (which is another option). Some breeders chose to give their birds ground up chicken shells instead of shop-bought mineral supplements. If you do choose to do this, make sure to thoroughly boil the shells beforehand to remove any bacteria.

Canary Food During Molting

Canaries and other Finches molt once a year, this usually lasts for a few months. During this season your birds will benefit from extra fatty seeds. Normal seed mixes will provide some of these seeds, though no harm will be done if you add an extra half-teaspoon of millet into the bird’s food during moulting season. Other than millet, other suitable fatty seeds are Flax, Niger or Hemp (there is a full list in the Finch Seed Mixes section, below). These will ensure that new feathers are strong, healthy and shiny.

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Comments

Bonnie, 6 March 2020

Does anyone know where to find a large horizontal finch cage large enough for 4 finches with 3/8 inch bar space. I am having trouble finding one large enough. I can find plenty of the tall cages but not horizontal ones.


Jane, 6 August 2018

Hello! Just an FYI, most Finch do not like whole Canola seed. I have found most of it on the floor or left at the bottom of the dish after all other seed is consumed (had a friend look after my birds one weekend and they assumed that there was still food in the bowl). They would not touch it. I believe it is simply "tag-dressing" for the protein content. Not sure what nutitionist is responsible for this. For poultry, in most cases, canola is heat-treated and ground before inclusion in the diet. Store bought finches will generally not eat pellets either and as they have such a high metabolic rate, tricky to try to get them on it as they need to eat frequently and have to have something else (such as seed) offered or they just won't eat. Just some food for thought. Watch those brands full of canola and pellets, most, if not all, will be wasted.

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