Pet Birds?

Matz and Coco

It's true: Zebra Finches are relatively robust, easy to breed and interesting to watch and thus popular with aviculturists and pet shop owners, showbird breeders and ethologists alike. But do these views correspond with the nature of these lively and lovely birds?

If we take the protection of animals and nature seriously, we will also have to answer this question from a bird's eye view: What do the animals get out of it? Can they be kept in captivity according to their natural needs, i. e. can we fulfil their natural demands on the environment, food etc.? If yes, are birds really kept in accordance with their behavioural requirements in our cages and aviaries – are they happy there? How can we keep them properly?

Zebra Finches, of course, get nothing out of being kept by a human being. And for a captive bird being "in the care of" a bird lover still means captivity. Fortunately, Australian Zebra Finches are no longer caught for aviculture: Catching and export have been banned for a long time. The question whether an animal suffers from captivity is often hard to answer and always requires precise knowledge of its biology; and as long as we can't safely rule out its suffering we should in doubt decide pro creature, i. e. against captivity. In the case of a feathered creature its ability to fly immediately comes to our mind: Can a bird whose habitat is the wide steppe retain its vitality at all in the confined and artificial environment of a human home?

Wiping the Beak

In a budgy cage, as it is usually offered by pet shops, this is certainly not possible, nor is it possible in the box cages in pet shops or the breeding and display cages of the show-bird breeders. Sufficient can only be considered what corresponds with the natural habitat of an animal. Thus the Australian outback – if at all – can only be matched by a spacious aviary which gives our Zebra Finches what they have in abundance in their home country: flying space!

So, he or she who takes the protection of animals seriously should not decide on a whim whether he or she wants to keep Zebra Finches, but base his decision on the available space: It should be sufficient for a really large aviary! By the way: Zebra Finches are the happiest when they have their own birds' room – preferably with an adjoining outdoor aviary for the summer ...

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