Letter 8: White Male

Problem Hello,
I bought 2 zebra finches over 2 months ago. One is a grey (named Shankley) and the other is mostly white with a small section of barring on his chest but no chestnut colour on his cheeks (named Paisley). From reading various literature I presume both are males. Paisley seems to be more timid than Shankley which worried me at first, but he does appear to be younger than Shankley as his feet/claws were not a long as Shankley's. They don't seem to fight and do seem quite happy.

I have a large cage for them, change their water at least daily and feed them on recommended seed, cuttlefish, lettuce, apple and cabbage. I give them a bath once a week.

My problem is that for the first 6 weeks they would cuddle up together to go to sleep during the night, however, recently they have started sleeping on separate perches facing each other. Does this mean that they are not getting on?

During the day they like to sleep together on the bottom of the cage, should I provide a nesting bowl for them ? and is this normal behaviour?

I would be grateful for any advice you could give me, due to me being new to keeping these beautiful birds which I adore.


Comment And what's your name? Perhaps Jacqueline Pendelton?
I wouldn't like to talk to a ghost ;-)

(I also presume they are allowed to do the bathing themselves ;-))

I hope I'll hear from you,
Hans-Jürgen Martin

Problem Hello Hans,
Firstly let me apologise for not supplying my name, I forgot which was very bad mannered of me. However, I must admit I am very new to e-mail and the e-mail I sent to you was the first I have ever done.

Secondly, I hope you understood what I wrote about my lovely zebra finches. And yes you are right the finches bath themselves, I just fit the bird bath on to the front of their cage. Shankley loves the bath and get in it straight away, unfortunately Paisley is not that keen and has only had 2 baths since I got the pair of them.

I have read a lot of the letters sent to you about Zebra Finches and you are very knowledgeable. I do hope you could give some advice or advise on what literature to read.

I hope to hear from you soon,
Best Wishes,
Jacqui Pendleton

Comment Hi Jacquie,
advice on what literature to read? Well, you won't be surprised if I recommend my own book, will you?

As for apple and cabbage, it would surprise me much if these were your birds' favourites.

The fact that your Zebra Finches have started sleeping on separate perches might mean that they are not getting on in a special way: They might have started recognising each other as males!

I do not know how old your Zebra Finches are: Once they are sexually mature males will recognize each other by their markings (barring, cheeks, flanks) and stopp cuddling. This might have been delayed by the sparse adult coloration of the white bird, Paisley. White birds often cause minor or major problems, since their sex is not easily recognized by other birds in the group. (Please also read the letters no. 9, 10 and 11.)

Sleep on the bottom of the cage is certainly not normal behaviour, you should indeed provide a nesting facility for them, but preferably not a bowl, but a "real", roofed Zebra Finch nest with a side entrance.

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