Zebra Finch Breeding

Zebra Finch Breeding – A Guide

If you love zebra finches and want to breed them in captivity, this article is for you. This guide will cover everything that’s involved with zebra finch breeding, including the best zebra finch breeding prep to keep your zebra finches happy and producing healthy eggs.

Most people would consider these as a low-maintenance type of bird. This is because zebra finches are not as fragile or demanding. They don’t need much of the fancy stuff to keep them happy or breeding.

As social creatures, They like to be with other zebra finches. When you get right down to it, there isn’t much you need to do as once a pair (male and female) are in a cage together, nature is going to take its course. However, just because there isn’t anything you NEED to do doesn’t mean there aren’t things you should do!

So if you’re interested in zebra finch breeding but have no idea where to start, this article will be your guide!

Zebra Finch Breeding Guide

Before breeding

Just like you would take a pre-workout powder or pre-warm the oven for a cake, There are things you can do for your bird “pre-breeding”.

First, you need to make sure the birds are actually old enough to breed. We have an article here and here about the repercussions of breeding a bid too young. It’s about cockatiels, but the same applies here to finches and really any bird. If you breed them too young, it could and probably will end poorly.

So with that said, Make sure your finches are at least 1 year old before attempting to breed them. This is the most important first pre-breeding step.

The second thing you’re going to want to figure out in advance before you begin to breed zebra finches is where you are going to put the offspring once they’re old enough to leave the nest and live on their own.

Do you plan on keeping them? Do you intend on selling them? Have a plan ahead of time. If you intend on keeping them, it’s important they have a space prepared for them in advance as they get a little older. It’s also wise to keep track of the genetic lineage of these birds so you avoid inbreeding in the future.

This also makes them easier to sell if that’s the way you want to go. If you would like to sell them, you should attempt to arrange buyers ahead of time. Make sure you let them know the birds are sibling pairs and should not be bred with each other (without professional supervision).

Having a buyer picked out ahead of time will also make it easier to figure out the zebra finch price and how much you should charge for them.

You won’t want to let these birds go before they’re ready, as zebra finches are fragile when their feathers first grow in, it can also cause undue stress and confusion for parents and babies. it should take about 2 months before the new birds are ready to be rehomed, Assuming weening has gone as it should.

Pre-breeding nutrition

When humans start developing a fetus, that fetus will grow over the long course of 9 months. There is no large drainage of resources for the human because of the stretched out timespan. Birds aren’t like this.

Birds will rapidly produce eggs in their bodies in a very short period of time which can make them susceptible to malnutrition very quickly.

It’s important that zebra finches are given a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nutritional pellets before they’re bred because this will help ensure the eggs do form in the body, and the mother doesn’t get sick from a lack of resources. A lack of nutrition can also cause egg production to be stunted or completely non-existent.

Most of their diet should consist of pellets and seeds, with veggies and fruits only being supplemental. Although if you intend on breeding them, it doesn’t hurt to be a little more generous on the “supplemental” foods. Just avoid too many fatty nuts.

As always, be sure anything you give them is pesticide-free and organic.

Setting up the nesting box

You have a lot of options for nesting boxes. You can buy a new one, re-purpose an old box, or even make your own. It should be sturdy, ideally made out of wood, but a hard natural plastic is ok too. A weaved box would probably be ideal and make the birds feel most at home.

You can also make it yourself which can be a lot of fun.

You will want something that’s for smaller birds, anything too large will make them feel uncomfortable. Minimum should be around 8 cubic inches give or take an inch, You shouldn’t really go smaller than that. You can go slightly larger, just make sure to add adequate bedding materials for the birds to pack up the empty space with.

Most people tend to go with shredded papers. Avoid newspapers or anything with ink in them. You can also check out these alternatives on amazon:

Seaokais Coconut Fiber Nesting Material for Birds,Dust-Free,2.1 Ounce
  • Material: All natural coconut fibers, extracted from matured coconuts
  • Chemical free and superb odor control
  • Birds love it!Suitable for all kinds of birds
  • Eco-friendly: Recycle in your garden or compost after use
  • Dust-free and absorbent which makes your cage cleaning very easy

Last update on 2022-05-19 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

And while we’re at it, Heres some nesting boxes I recommend personally:

Nature's Way Bird Products CWH3 Cedar Bluebird Box House
  • Made with rot-resistant premium cedar and rust-free stainless-steel hardware
  • Air vents allow for maximum air ventilation through wall and floor openings for bird health
  • Clean-out door provides easy access for cleaning
  • Elevated mesh floor aids in management of blowfly; Durable rust-free galvanized wire mesh
  • Predator guard extends entrance hole to protect against predators; fledgling kerfs provide extra grip for fledglings to climb out

Last update on 2022-05-19 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Parakeet Nesting Box, Bird Nest Breeding Box Cage Wood House for Finch Lovebirds Cockatiel Budgie Conure Parrot, 8'' X 5'' X 5''
  • ✔HIGH QUALITY BIRD NEST: Durable bird nesting box is made of all natural wood. Bird breeding box is suitable for cockatiel, budgie, parakeet, parrot, lovebird and so on. Size - 8 x 5 x 5 inch /20 X 12 X 12 cm (opening 2 inch/5.5cm).
  • ✔BIRD BREEDING HABITAT: Parakeet nesting box is warm and conducive to parrot breeding.It gives your lovely bird a warm and comfortable nest to rest in. It satisfies the climbing and gnawing habits of lovebirds.
  • ✔EASY TO CLEAN: Side opening for easy cleaning and removal of bedding materials. Cockatiel love the ability to lounge around on the perching ledge.
  • ✔Encourages natural breeding and nesting behaviors in birds.
  • ✔Opening for easy cleaning and removal of bedding materials.

Last update on 2022-05-19 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Once the box is securely attached to the cage so it won’t fall off, your pretty much done. The birds will handle the rest and deal with sorting the paper shreds/nesting material you chose out.

The actual laying eggs part

You should expect to see up to 8 eggs at a time per bird inside each clutch cycle. It’s fine if there are fewer, Average bird only lays about 4-5 at a time. A lot of that is down to genetics and nutritional levels.

She won’t lay them all at once, A finch will generally lay 1 per day. Altho it’s not uncommon for them to happen in more rapid succession and doesn’t follow a strict time limit.

Once the last egg is laid, she will start to sit and incubate them. She will become very aggressive once the laying starts, and more so once she begins to incubate. Keep that in mind. She only wishes to protect her young.

Incubation time

A zebra finches clutch will hatch around 14 days (2 weeks) after she starts to incubate them. This varies by a few days up or down. If after 20 days the eggs haven’t hatched, they are most likely infertile or duds and you should remove them as soon as she abandons them.

Sometimes she will also abandon perfectly good eggs for a variety of reasons, should this happen you should be prepared to incubate them yourself with an incubator. You can set something up with a heating pad. I suggest you look that up before attempting to do it lest you kill the eggs.

Overall, The finch should be left alone until the eggs hatch. No noise, no interaction, no stressful situations.

Once the babies hatch you should leave them to the parents to take care of. Unlike other types of birds such as parrots, Finches don’t need to be socialized as chicks.

At around 2 months they can be sold or moved into their own cage. Remember to keep the genetic line written down so you don’t accidentally breed siblings.

TL;DR bottom line

  • Before breeding give them plenty of nutrition, and set up a breeding box. make sure they are old enough to breed without issue (1yr).
  • Let the parents do their thing and don’t interfere unless the eggs are dead. and then only after 20+ days.

Extra questions

When do finches lay eggs?

Every day for 5-8 days during her laying cycle. She will lay 1 egg at a time per day. Once all the eggs are laid, she will begin to incubate them. The average clutch has 4-8 eggs depending on the bird’s genetic prowess, environmental factors, and nutritional levels.

What do baby zebra finches eat?

A baby zebra finch will eat her mother’s regurgitated food until she herself is ready to eat solid foods. It’s not recommended you interfere with finches while the mother is taking care of them.

If the babies been abandoned, you can feed her baby bird formula such as this to keep her alive and well until she’s ready to eat on her own.

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