The author
  Hans-Jürgen Martin

Dear Zebra Finch friends,

I was born in 1952 and have been living in a town in North Rhine Westphalia since my tenth year of life – and I have been dealing with Zebra Finches for a quarter of a century. My profession is that of a teacher for languages and EDP at the VHS-HAUS (adult education centre for school education) in Düsseldorf.

So, how did I come across Zebra Finches?

Well, biology or, to be more precise, zoology, has always been my passion, and I surely would have studied biology had it not been for my difficulties with the "natural" sciences in general ...
    On the other hand, as fate, or rather a thoughtless contemporary, would it, a fawn female Zebra Finch ("Coco") ventured into my parents' garden some 30 years ago and hungrily ate the sad remnants of millet that my mother had poured out of a budgy cage. I quickly identified the little bird as an exotic foreigner (I wasn't skilled for more then), scared it away into the conservatory with a blanket, shut the door and caught it. Having classified the female as a Zebra Finch, I searched the pet shops for a male, found it and – well, you can imagine the rest.

I had (and have) more passions: DIY and photography. I used my handicraft during my studies to build a small aviary for my finches: birds must fly, if they are to live according to their way of life, and if I didn't want to let them fly free in a room for endless hours and risk that they would escape one day through an open window, I would have to build some generous accomodation. My other hobby, photography, gave rise to a small slide collection of behavioural studies of these grass finches.

The end of my studies was followed by my teacher training and this by odd jobs and joblessness. So there was enough time to study my birds more intensively and also scientifically, which soon made me realize that there were quite a few scientific treatises on Zebra Finches, but no book on the market for the amateur and grass finch lover. So I discovered another passion, contacted a distinguished publishing house for pet books (G&U in Munich) and wrote the missing book myself. It has seen the 16th edition in the meantime ...

And it has also been published in Danish, Dutch, English, Norwegian, and Czech in the meantime. The English or rather American edition ( is to be found in Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

By the way, ornithology has lead me to environmental protection, which is really a responsibilty rather than a hobby – for mankind. Oh yes, there's another fine hobby: travelling, e. g. to the Fifth Continent, where I could meet "my" Zebra Finches in the Australian outback. There should be more time and money ...

Zur Leitseite 15/08/1999 nach oben The Book (English)