Small pet birds and anything related by Pete Etheridge – aka – 'Stanton Birdman'

Archive for the ‘zebra finch’ Category

Zebra Finches: Why They Are Easy to Care For

By Cody Jons

Among many varieties of finches, zebra finches are one of the easiest for keeping and breeding, because of their meek and vivid nature. These birds that originate from Australia are among the most beloved pets in the world. We are sure you are not asking yourself why they are so beloved, you only have to see one of them once just to realize that they are really special, sweet creatures. This makes them very special and simply irresistible. Their appearance has long been a subject of fascination among bird enthusiasts.

These finches are sincerely recommended for beginners, and they are very suitable for novices who have a wish to breed birds. Naturally, it does not mean you do not have to posses any knowledge about them, it just means that you can easy learn about their needs and get prepared for the challenge. Unlike some other types of finches, zebras are very comfortable in human presence, which guaranties they will not look at you appearance as a form of domestic disturbance. We could never be sure what exactly exists in their world of fantasies and dreams, but no doubt, there is something beautiful, worthy of admiration and respect. It means they would not feel offended if you do not pay them a special attention. Of course, we are talking about at least one pair of finches. In their native Australia, they move in flocks and really enjoy flying over the wide grasslands. Finches of zebra subfamily keep their social behavior during the entire life, and they build interesting relationships with other birds in the flock.

They remain happy and cheerful during their lifespan, which is usually up to five years. An interesting fact is worth to mention: unlike most of animals that live in zoos, these birds have longer lifespan in captivity which usually ranges from 8 to 10 years. Their cute chirping is simply adorable and there is no real chance for you to feel uncomfortable by them.

You need to obtain a cage, large enough, that will allow them to make short flights and various exercises. You may also allow them to fly in your home outside the cage, but you have to make sure that doors and windows are closed in order to exclude possibility of their escape. Unlike some other birds, including finches, zebras have no problems with mating because they do not have high demands, which means that male and female are always compatible. The male and the female love each other and spend a plenty of time to kiss and preen each other. Problems are possible but, anyway, most of them are easy solvable. However, little troubles occur from time to time; for example a quarrel is possible when they decide who to sit on eggs. Males can be more aggressive and you can vent their aggression by supplying them toys to play.

More specific information are needed to care for many other kinds of pets, which means some of them have very special needs and only little mistake can lead to disastrous consequences. Little zebra birds are not among these pets. They are among the hardiest finches and you need only basic information to keep them properly, making their lives full of joy.

They have to be feed properly, but anyway, their usual menu is not complicated to be learned. You do not need a special experience to make them suitable conditions for breeding and that is why beginners have a great success dealing with these little pets, only by following some basic rules.

Cody Jons is a finch expert. Finches Birds Center has the complete guide for Finches Zebra. Here is a free expert advice on Keeping and Breeding, Beautiful Healthy Finches visit

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How to be sure your small pet birds can survive the harsh winter conditions that will soon be upon us

Autumn will be here sooner than we know it; after all we are already at the end of August.  What happened to summer?  Last winter was pretty harsh with heavy snowfall here in the UK, so there’s a good chance that this winter may turn out the same.  Your tropical pet birds need to be suitably protected to withstand a harsh winter season.

Larger tropical pet birds are more likely to be able to cope with the freezing conditions but they still need some protection.  Small pet birds however will require good quality protection from the onslaught of winter, as their smaller size means that they will cool down much quicker than their bigger cousins.  Fortunately your small pet birds are quite hardy and are more than able to stand the cold than you might imagine as long as suitable requirements are met.  For example, in Australia where many tropical pet birds originate from the night time temperatures can become very cold in certain areas but the birds survive OK.

Have you noticed that when the weather is freezing cold you are usually quite comfortable if there is no wind and you are dry.  Tropical pet birds are the same; they don’t mind getting wet, they don’t mind cold wind or draughts, they don’t mind freezing cold temperatures, but they are not going to take them all at once.  As long as your small pet birds have had a good feed and built up a nice layer of cold-protecting fat they are happy.  So make sure they’ve got a plentiful and continuous supply of food to help them feel comfortable.

Another of my articles at ‘ArticleBase‘ offers more information.

Also don’t allow small pet birds like finches to go without light for more than a maximum of eight hours.  An automatic switch that switches on and off at pre-set times and connected to an artificial light source is a good idea, just be sure your tropical pet birds cannot come into contact with the bulb and burn themselves.  This is because due to their small size and active nature small pet birds like finches need to eat on a regular basis to keep up their energy and fat levels.  They will only eat if it is light enough for them to see clearly.

My article at ‘ArticleBase‘ will give you a little more information on this matter.

Tropical pet birds in an outdoor aviary need to build up their fat reserves to keep their inner bodies warm so if they have been breeding you must ensure that they do not breed during the winter.  The chicks would surely die in the cold conditions and raising chicks certainly exhausts their parents and diminishes their food supply much quicker than if they were not looking after youngsters.  The best way to prevent your small pet birds from breeding again is to remove the nest boxes at the end of summer regardless of how many clutches they have raised; don’t do it until any current babies have flown the nest though.

The tropical pet birds’ aviary will need to be dry and free from cold draughts.  This is not a necessity however as long as it is dry and draught free.  Artificial heating can be used as long as no fossil fuels are used to provide the heat, so no coal, gas or paraffin for example.

To ensure the aviary for your small pet birds is in good repair for winter, and to avoid having to work in the cold you need to carry out any repairs during late summer or early autumn.  To allow enough time before winter sets in it is necessary to inspect the aviary and fix any issues.  As long as your aviary is secure, draught free and watertight your tropical pet birds will be fine.


Currently mourning the loss of my yellow turquoisine cock bird who sadly passed away this morning. See his photo on the right side of the page.

+ R I P +

On a happier note; after checking the nest boxes today I was pleased to find 11 budgie eggs, 1 cockatiel egg, and 5 Java sparrow eggs. Good luck to them! This will be the first year that my current Java sparrows and cockatiels have chosen to breed, they were still young last year. I’ll keep you posted of any developments.

Been re-arranging all the branches and perches in the outdoor flight. Now there’s more space for me to get around without my birds losing anything. What’s more I have made all my re-arrangements secure, so no more unexpected collapsing perches and branches.

I’ve also started taking down the walls of the old – now unused – night shelter and replacing with mesh panels, this will allow more sunshine into that side of the aviary.

If you don’t know what I’m on about; when I first built my current aviary two years ago I also built a night shelter into my design because I didn’t have a shed or anything similar to use at the time. Last year I extended the flight area and also incorporated a shed that I scrounged, repaired, insulated, draught-proofed, and boarded-out as a night shelter and thus making the old night shelter redundant. However up until now the old night shelter remained with just the front wall removed and became a part of the flight area. I am trying to dismantle it a bit at a time and replace with mesh panels.

A point or two to contemplate.

When furnishing your aviary with branches and perches etc. make sure they are secure and don’t make the same mistake as I did, unexpected falls will scare your birds. It’s sorted now.

My next point is that sometimes you will lose birds for no apparent reason. Yes it is upsetting but unfortunately you will have to learn to accept it, believe me it gets easier with time. Give them the best you can however and you will undoubtedly limit the risk.


Pet birds – The popularity of native Australian birds in aviculture

Zebra finches

Lots of popular pet bird species originate from Australia, most of the well-known pet birds are native to this country but not all of them. Many are from the Americas, Africa, and Asia, but the most popular by far and through the sheer numbers in captivity are the Australian species, which range from small finches, right through the range to large parrots.

Famous breeds like the budgerigar (know as parakeet in some countries), cockatiel, zebra finch, lorikeet, and the cockatoo all became available throughout the world via importation from Australia.

When our ancestors first discovered the Australian continent they found many types of animals that were unique to this part of the globe, such as the now infamous ‘duck-billed platypus’ and the ‘echidna‘(egg laying mammals! How strange must that have been?); marsupials such as the ‘kangaroo’, ‘wallaby’, ‘koala’ and many new and unique bird species; many of which were very brightly coloured. So they desired specimens of these birds to take home, and in doing so boosted the fondness of exotic pet bird keeping.

Starting with the smaller breeds; Australian finches that are popular as pets include the ‘star finch’, ‘gouldian finch’ and the well known and readily available at a low price ‘zebra finch’. However there are many more.

Small to medium sized parrot-like species from Australia include the most popular small pet bird of all, the ‘budgerigar’ (or ‘parakeet’). The almost as popular ‘cockatiel’ is also an Australian native, plus no end of other well known pet birds. The list is almost endless: ‘lories’ and ‘lorikeets’ (several types of these), parakeets such as ‘turquoisine’, ‘bourke’, ‘splendid’ ‘elegant’ and ‘red-rumped’ to name a few, there’s loads more. The medium sized ‘eclectus parrot’ also hails from this part of the world.

The ‘rosellas’ are also medium parrot from Australia and about 6 different varieties are used as pets; ‘Eastern’, ‘Northern’, ‘Western’, ‘crimson’, ‘green’, and ‘pale-headed’. All are unique and different in their own way but are closely related. Rosella are known for their strikingly rich colouring, making them a very desirable pet.

Finally the big daddy of Australian pet birds, the ‘cockatoo’. There are about 20 different species of cockatoo but not all are popular as pets, and believe it or not the famous ‘cockatiel’ mentioned earlier is a member of this bird family but of course nowhere near as large as some of its cockatoo cousins. All birds in the cockatoo family are distinguishable by the crest of feathers on the top of the head.

Many breeds of Australian birds live in massive flocks in the wild. The sight of hundreds of budgerigars, cockatiels, finches or lorikeets flocking together is an awe-inspiring sight, and very noisy.

To summarise there is a massive range of Australian birds available as pets all over the world. Many are very colourful, easy to keep, very hardy and all have unique and sometimes entertaining characteristics. The least costly of exotic pet birds are also native Aussies. Is it any wonder that these pet birds are so popular?

For more bird keeping related issues please email me with your questions.

More information can be found in my new pet bird keeping ebook available now, visit to get your copy.

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Follow me on Facebook at!/pages/Stanton-Birdman/178059325577474

Let’s begin our world tour!

We will begin our tour in Australia.

Why there?

Because quite simply the majority of exotic birds used as pets hail from there.  Budgies, cockatiels, rosellas, grass parakeets, cockatoos, zebra finches and many more were first discovered in Australia.

So why not start there!

Learn more about Oz.

Suggestions for Choosing Your New Small Pet Bird or Birds – A Few Things to Consider

When selecting what type of new pet bird would best suit your circumstances and desire there are a few thing you must consider before making that all-important purchase.

During my 10 years experience I have only dealt with small pet birds so unfortunately for some my knowledge is restricted to these only.

Firstly you must decide what type of bird you would like and if it would be suitable to your circumstances, then you need to be sure you have a home set up for your new feathered friend before you bring it home.

Below is a brief but hopefully informative list of the most popular small pet birds and the ups and downs of their upkeep:


From the parrot family and originally from Australia the budgie is often called ‘parakeet’ or ‘long-tailed parakeet’, the budgerigar is without a doubt the most popular pet bird in the Western world and with good reason; small enough to handle, easy to tame, inexpensive, a startling array of different colours, can be kept on its own, very friendly (if tame), a chatterer, minimum requirement to keep in good health, easy to breed (if you want to), usually mixes well with other small birds (budgies and other species). Ideal in a cage or aviary.

However budgies can inflict a nasty wound if they bite you whilst handling (rarely a problem if they’re tame, but they can draw blood if they sink their beak in), they can also be rather destructive (they love to chew), and budgerigars can be very territorial during breeding (especially if kept with other birds).

In the wild budgies live in large flocks and so need plenty of interaction to save them from becoming bored. They therefore need to be kept busy with lots of toys and your attention, or alternatively kept with another of their kind, so as they can interact with each other.



Originally from Australia, the cockatiel is a very poular pet bird

Another Australian bird often called ‘tiel’ for short, these small parrots are also very popular as pets, due to their calm nature and unique character. A little bigger than the budgie so more space is required (a bigger cage for example), the cockatiel also lives in large flocks in the wild so again interaction and toys are a must.

They can be kept an their own or in pairs or small groups, and easy to keep. Ideal as a cage or aviary bird, and because of their calm nature the cockatiel will normally mix well with other small birds of a different species (cockatiels are often kept in the same aviary as budgerigars and finches with rarely any problems). They can learn to mimic other sounds with patience and determination, and are easy to tame.

However they can also inflict a rather nasty wound if they choose to bite (probably a worse injury than the budgie due to their larger beaks, but again not usually a problem when tame). Ideally if you want to breed your cockatiels they need to be on their own as a breeding pair with no other birds. These birds can also be very destructive due to their desire to have a chew at almost anything, but they are easily startled (so no sudden loud noises or sudden bright lights please!).


Somewhat smaller than budgerigars and cockatiels, and not part of the parrot family, the most popular types of finch are again very popular for good reason: very easy to keep, good natured, small and compact, extremely active, cute, prolific breeders, usually low priced, little space required for good upkeep (the perfect pet bird for apartments, flats and small living areas).

There are many types of finch available on the pet bird market but the most popular are: zebra finch, society finch (Bengalese finch), gouldian finch, java finch (java sparrow), the java being the largest of the four just mentioned (slightly smaller than the budgie).

All of these can be accommodated in a cage of aviary and also usually mix well with other species (I keep budgerigars, cockatiels, zebra finches, Bengalese finches, and javas together in a large outdoor aviary and very rarely have any problems).

As for the initial cost of these little characters the zebra finches usually come out the least expensive (from £3 to £8 each, often with a good deal for a pair), next would be the society finches (from £5 to £10 each, again with a better deal for a pair), then the javas (£8 to £15 each, buy two for a better price), and the gouldian finches coming out on top (the cheapest I’ve seen these is about £20 each right up to £60 – sometimes more – but a deal on more than one can usually be arranged). The reason for the bigger price for the gouldians is because of their great colouring and rarity, a desirable bird that people will often pay handsomely for.

However finches do not always take readily to handling and must be kept in groups of 2 or more.

At least due to their small size a bite is not likely to bother you a great deal.


There are many other types of birds available but the price is usually higher as they are not as common.

Many other types of parakeets however are still rather popular – ring neck parakeet, grass parakeet (bourke, turquoisine, elegant, alexandrine), kakariki (New-Zealand parakeet), rosella, love bird to name but a few.

The upkeep however for all small pet birds is basically the same.

Always remember to shop around for the best deal and if possible buy your new bird or birds from a breeder, or hobbyist rather than a pet shop.

A note on accommodation for your new pet bird.

Most small pet birds will live happily in an aviary, and this is the nearest they are likely to get to their natural environment, but in an aviary your birds will become semi-wild and may not take very well to handling or one on one interaction.

Caged birds however are a different matter, and can often be tame and friendly towards us humans. Make sure that if you plan to keep your bird or birds in a cage then go for the biggest you can afford (within reason of course, no good putting zebra finches in a large wide barred parrot cage); your bird needs to be able to stretch its wings to their fullest extent and still have some room left.

Most pet birds – especially parrot type species – will spend more time climbing than flying, even in an aviary.

For more bird keeping related issues please email me with your questions.

More information available in my new pet bird keeping ebook out now, visit to get your copy or paste the above url into your web browser.

Follow me on Facebook at!/pages/Stanton-Birdman/178059325577474

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How to give your pet aviary birds the right start for the breeding season

It’s that time of year when if you have your birds in an outdoor aviary they will be ready to do what Mother Nature intended; that is to raise offspring and pass there genes to the next generation. With the outdoor temperatures on the increase now is the time of season for your outdoor aviary birds to breed.

I intentionally avoid putting out nest boxes until May at the earliest because, although we have recently recorded the hottest April on record here in the UK this is not always the case, there is normally a risk of frost right until the end of May. This is the same reason why it is unadvisable to plant out your summer bedding plants until the end of may or early June, the possible risk of frost can cause serious damage.

Your birds eggs are likely to be OK as your birds will incubate them themselves, but young chicks in a cold frosty environment is a recipe for disaster.

The size and type of nest box required depends solely on the species of bird you intend to occupy it:

Cockatiels will require an upright box with a removable or hinged lid or flap for inspection and cleaning. The nest box should be approximately 12 inch (30 cm) high, 8-9 inch (20-22.5 cm) wide, 8-9 inch (20-22.5 cm) deep, with a round entrance placed high up about 2-2½ inch (5-6.25 cm) in diameter; remember to have a perch of some sort mounted just beneath the entrance hole. It is advisable to attach some aviary mesh on the inside of the nest box below the entrance hole, this will help as a ladder rather than the parent bird jumping onto the eggs or chicks; but they don’t have such a thing in the wild so it’s not absolutely necessary.

Budgerigars (budgies, parakeets) will require a box of about 9 inch (22.5 cm) long, 6 inch (15 cm) wide, 6 inch (15 cm) deep with an entrance hole approximately 2 inch (5 cm) in diameter on the front top corner. An upright nest box of similar dimensions also works well but the horizontal type seem to be the most popular. Again you will need a removable lid or a door for inspection and cleaning purposes, a perch below the entrance hole, and if using an upright nest box some wire mesh on the inside below the entrance hole will help for the same reason as the cockatiel box above, but again not essential.

Small finches such as zebra and Bengalese (society) will need a nest box that is approximately 5 inch (12.5 cm) in all dimensions with the front slightly smaller in height by about 1-1½ inch (2.5-3.75 cm) to leave an entrance opening at the top front, you can have a perch below the entrance if you like but it’s not needed. Finches will also often take to a small semi-open wicker basket.

Before putting out your nest boxes you must inspect each one carefully for any signs of wear or rot, and if necessary repair or replace them. Also make sure your nest boxes are hygienically clean, so give them a scrub if needed with a mild disinfectant solution, then rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry completely before using them.

Place your nest boxes as high up as possible, after all birds usually nest in trees so like to nest high up. Be sure to fix all your nest boxes at the same height otherwise your birds will squabble over the highest placement. If you have a mixed aviary make sure you do not mix different types of nest boxes in the same place. By this I mean split your aviary into areas, no barriers required, an area for cockatiel boxes, an separate area for budgerigar boxes, and a separate area for finch boxes or baskets. If you have nest boxes for different species in too close a proximity this may result in territorial disputes between different species and can result in destroyed eggs, or chicks getting attacked.

Unless you are breeding for the show bench, for which a totally different approach is required, it is best to let your birds choose their own mates and nesting boxes.

Whilst they are breeding and raising young you must be certain to supply your birds with a constant food and fresh water source, after all they will need all the energy they can get. Also try not to let your birds raise more than 2 clutches per year, 3 at the most as once they have finished they will need to build up their energy and fat reserves to get through winter, so be sure to remove the nest boxes in the autumn (fall) when they have done.

Good luck!

For more bird keeping related issues please email me with your questions.

More information can be found in my new pet bird keeping ebook available now, visit to get your copy.

Follow me on Facebook at!/pages/Stanton-Birdman/178059325577474

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