Questions About Finch Diet

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Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Amazon1610 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:48 pm

It's easy enough to find information regarding the recommended diet of finches, specifically zebra finches, as I'm thinking about getting a pair. However, I'd still like to know what you all recommend in regard to diet as well as how often to feed certain foods. So I ask:

1. What is the best base diet for finches?

By base diet I mean the majority of food that's given. So far, I'm told that pellets are the best base diet and that seeds as a base diet are unhealthy. One article on a well visited animal hospital's website said that feeding seeds to finches (and other birds) as a base diet is like "Giving candy to a child every day." Opinions? Do seeds need to be a part of a finch's diet at all?

2. What kinds of fruits and greens, etc., should be fed to finches? How much?

3. How often should certain foods be fed to finches? For instance, should a small amount of seeds be fed every day in addition to pellets, or should seeds be given every other day? Every two days? Should fruits and greens, etc., be fed every day or every other day? When different foods are offered in a single day, should they be in separate cups? At different times of the day?

4. Which foods are unhealthy for birds? It's a common sense question, but I ask in case there are foods that look healthy for birds, such as a fruit, but are actually unhealthy.

5. Is the diet of zebra finches any different from that of society finches? A few have recommended that I consider society finches as well.

To summarize, I'd like to know what you feed your finches and how much and how often you feed them. What would you recommend and what should I stay away from? People often feed different food to their pets so that's why I ask. I'd like your unique perspectives on finch diet.

I think it's also important to note that I do not plan on breeding. I know that in the case of breeding there are certain nutritional requirements for females. For this reason I'm considering purchasing two females.

Thanks in advance,


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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Sheather » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:54 pm

I'm not going to suggest the best diet, because everyone does things a little differently. I'm going to tell you what I feed my birds.

My birds have constant access to dry food in a bowl. Half the time, I fill their bowl with Roudybush Nibles, the pellet brand I like most. When they finish their pellets, I fill it with wild finch seed mix; the one I use comes in 10 pound bags at Walmart and contains white millet, red millet, canary grass seed, thistle and sunflower seed hearts. It is the commercial mix I have found to have the least waste. Though not all birds eat the thistle or the sunflower, it still is eaten more than any pet finch mix I've ever tried and cheaper by far.

So about half their dry diet is pellets and half seed, they eat each one for about three or four days, then get the other. I don't feed both at once because the birds will eat only seed and not bother with their pellets. I also give millet sprays but only occasionally, they are not unhealthy if part of a varied diet. Finches in the wild eat mostly green seeds, that is, seeds which arent fully grown. Pet finches are fed dry seeds, which are less nutritious and not a complete diet on their own. When fed in conjunction with greens and boiled eggs, seeds are a good base diet. I feed pellets because I think the wider variety of food they eat, the better, and because I don't always provide fresh food every day and with pellets I know they are still getting all their nutrition.

To this, they also get fresh greens every day or every other day. Romaine lettuce and broccoli are my go-to's and always get eaten, but when the grocery store gets new things I always try them too. I just bought rapini, a broccoli type vegetable, as well as dandelion greens and my birds LOVE these more than anything I've ever tried before. I've tried kale, and they nibble it a little but don't like it much. Same with mustard greens and spinach.

Less often (few times a month but every day when breeding and molting) I give hard-boiled egg, mashed with a fork, this is what the babies need to eat and its good for the adult birds on occasion too.

As a rare treat I give sweet corn, either fresh or thawed, and they go crazy for it. My canaries also get apple slices, but none of the other birds like them.

This has been my diet plan for four years and canaries, zebra finches, society finches, a bunch of other finches, two kinds of doves, budgies and cockatiels have all thrived and bred well on it. There is no difference in the diet of society and zebra finches.


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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by wildbird » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:54 pm

If your birds are not used to eating pellets, don't take all the seeds away. Some birds will starve to death before eating pellets.

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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Sally » Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:00 am

I'm not a fan of pellets, but that is just me. My birds get a good basic finch mix, I happen to like Hagen but it is not readily available everywhere in the U.S. In addition to the seed mix, which is offered in a gravity-type vacation hopper so it is available at all times, they get homemade egg food and veggies. There is no schedule, they get things when I get around to it. Most of their extra food is offered in the morning, and I leave the egg food in the cage all day. The next day, I will replace it with fresh. I have waxbills, so they like mini mealworms or any other living insect. I also offer dried insects, but they don't like that stuff as much as the real thing. With Zebras, there is no need to feed insects, living or dead.

There is a lot of information here, along with a list of bad foods. Most veggies are OK as long as they are in moderation. I like to change out the veggies, I think they would get tired of the same thing all the time anyway. Mine love chickweed, which only grows in the winter here in Texas, but you may have it in the summer. Dandelion greens are another favorite. You can feed these from your yard as long as you don't use chemicals on the yard. You can get some good greens at an organic grocery store like Sprouts. Try different veggies with your birds, they all have different tastes.

I also offer a mineral mix. Finches don't need it to grind up their seed, but it offers calcium and other minerals, which they do need. It is offered free choice. A cuttlefish bone will also offer calcium.
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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Fernando » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:43 am

I never give pellets.
The reason is simple: with pellets I don't know what exactly the birds are eating. I don't eat processed food either, so, as long as I can afford it - and pellets still are expensive over here - they get seeds. That is what they get in nature, too. No candy. No seed mix with sugar.
The seed is mixed with soil and sands; egg-shells. So, even there is plenty of dry seed the birds have to search for it. They get sprouted seed too, the same seed mix, and young green from the garden. They adore green peas; cucumber and young sprouted green grasses. But most of all they devour half ripe millet.
Every time I go walking in the mountains, I pick a lot of grasses and other herbs with half ripe seeds. These bundles make the birds get exercise and they enjoy different seeds.
The waste ends up in the garden and sprouts - and back to the birds.

No need for pellets. No need for feeding industry.

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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by lovezebs » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:02 am


Hi Rob,

All of my birds eat seeds..
I believe that it is their natural diet, and what they have evolved to eat for as long as birds have been around.
A good quality, plain finch seed mix, mixed with Canary seed, and Budgie mix, without all the dyed seeds and bits.

Hard boiled eggs are offered 2 or 3 times a week, every day when moulting, breeding, and raising young. Eggs provide much needed protein to their diet which seeds alone do not. In the wild birds eat all sorts of live foods for their protein needs.

Live foods are offered occasionally, such as meal worms and flightless fruit flies. Both my Zebras and Societies relish them along with the rest of the crew.

A variety of greens and veggies are offered on a regular basis.
Baby Spring Mix, spinach, cucumber, broccoli, romain, red swiss chard, beet greens, kale, parsley, corn, grated carrots, peas, etc. In the Spring and Summer, I offer dandilion and chick weed as well.

When it comes to fruits, some birds appreciate them more than others. Mine will eat apple (grated), orange slices (cut across), grapes (halved), banana, berries, melons, etc.

Aside from that, I offer spray millet, wild seeds (which I collect), wild grass seed heads, both green and ripe, depending on the season.

To top this off, grated cuttle bone, crushed egg shells, grated mineral block, grated iodine block, bird charcoal, and bird clay are mixed together with bird mineral grit and offered regularly.

Good luck with your birds.

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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Flight Feathers » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:14 pm

I feed my Zebs a mixture of budgie and canary seed along with Millet every now and again. I have given my finches, finch seed before but it's quite expensive and they didn't really seem to like it which is why I just feed them a mix of budgie and canary seed. As for greens I feed my Zebs chickweed, silver beet and peas in a pod. I also sometimes give them a little Apple as a treat although think that's more the canaries that liked the Apple.

If you plan to get two females you'll definitely want to make sure you have a Cuttle bone in the cage so that they get plenty of calcium. Even if you don't have a male and don't plan on breeding it wouldn't be impossible for the females to lay on the ground. My finches have laid plenty of eggs on the ground.

Also I am pretty sure that Zebs and societies have the same diet but as I don't have societies I wouldnt know for sure.
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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Sojourner » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:01 pm

My societies (zebras are much the same dietary-wise) get a parakeet blend I get in bulk from a locally owned pet store - basically millet, oat groats, and canary reedgrass seed.

I started them on a more expensive branded "finch" mix that included rape seed and day-glo colored pellets. They wouldn't touch the rape seed, some brown seed that I never figured out what it was, and the pellets, and I have since found that pellets almost always are composed mostly of corn - its usually the first ingredient even in expensive blends, or at least in the first 3 ingredients. There are also multiple reports from breeders of major breeding failures including death of the parent birds on pellets due to the stress of breeding and the inferiority of pellets.

However even a "dry seed" diet is not sufficient for their long term health (says the woman who has lost 2 of 3 finches to (1) egg binding and (2) a tumor in the last 3 years).

Thus I also feed a "spring kale" mix, broccoli slaw, arugula, baby kale. Sometimes they will eat a clump of broccoli clipped to the side of the cage. They love spinach but I don't offer it any more due to its high oxalic acid content and my inability to use it up fast enough if I don't offer it to them every day. They won't eat carrots or sweet potatoes though the parakeets will sometimes. I should say HE won't eat them, as I am currently down to one lonely finch. I need to find him a friend soon. Anyway.

I also make a bird bread with NO CORN - recipe here: ... it=+recipe

There is no reason to slavishly follow that, you can use anything safe for birds to eat in it though I do not use seeds with hulls. I use hulled millet in it and everything else is hulled or such a soft seed (like sesame) that it doesn't matter. You can use just about any oil as well such as sunflower, coconut, or other edible oils suitable for birds. Any bird safe veggies or fruits are fine. It's more of a template than an actual recipe.

And then I rotate several "treat" seeds through the cage over the course of time to expand their dietary options. These include (but are not limited to):
  • flax seed
  • nyjer seed (same stuff I feed the goldfinches outside)
  • hulled sunflower chips
  • flaked grains such as barley, oats, rye, triticale or 5 grain "cereal"
  • amaranth seed
  • buckwheat GROATS not with the hull still on
  • hulled hemp
  • chia
  • sprouted quinoa (I buy the sprouted version, I don't try to sprout it myself)
  • canary reedgrass seed
  • oat groats
  • sesame seed
  • fennel seed - not the fat Italian type, the thin type used in Indian cooking. They love the latter, won't touch the former.
  • couscous
  • textured soy protein crumbles
  • sugar free preservative free organic coconut flakes
  • CEDE canary egg food - they didn't care that much for the extra stuff in the finch version
I get most of these from bulk bins at Winco/Cub foods, Whole Foods, and a local "organic" co-op. I get some from the bulk bins at a locally owned pet store. I have also recently laid hands on some Bob's Red Mill "quick cooking" steel cut oats that they like a lot. Its sort of midway between regular steel cut oats and flaked oats. I normally keep 2 or 3 of these in the cage in addition to the staple seed at any given time.

The staple for the finch(es) is the run of the mill parakeet blend. The parakeets were on a sprouted rice/quinoa mix I was getting from Trader Joe's, but they stopped carrying it and I'm on a hunt for a new staple seed blend for them. Now that they've been weaned off it, they don't like the millet in the parakeet blend any more, LOL! But the finches do/did fine on the regular parakeet blend with supplementation with fresh veggies and other seed (and eggfood) as above.

Also don't forget to keep calcium sources in the cage at all times. I have 4 in the cage at all times:

1) cuttlebone
2) ABBA blue mineral mix
3) crushed egg shell
4) a mineral block - for finches you need to score it and/or knock off the corners to give them a start on it.

I put VitaDrops in their water so they get enough D3 and other vitamins.
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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Nikita » Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:43 pm

Hi Molly,
The bullet point treat mix will be fine for my Zebra Finches? I fount the Bob’s Red Mill groats interesting, is that safe to offer my Zebras as well? Sorry if I missed the point. Lol

I noticed my birds LOVE dill. They’ve eaten abs built their nest with it. They also love Sweet pea sprouts. I’m offering Dandelion leaves, not much interest in that.

They love their millet, that’s what they pull out of the mix of seed that I purchased from the pet store. The bag has canary, budgie and a finch represented on it.

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Re: Questions About Finch Diet

Post by Nikita » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:57 pm

wildbird wrote: If your birds are not used to eating pellets, don't take all the seeds away. Some birds will starve to death before eating pellets.
I’ve desperately tried to get my Zebras to eat boiled eggs, Lefabers (which I think is considered pellets, looks more like a crumble to me) bagged egg food, Miracle meal... they won’t touch it. They do like sweet pea sprouts and dill. Not to mention all the other stuff I’ve read about that I tried to offered. I keep offering and switching it up, maybe some day, but my two are diehard seed eaters. I figure, why stress them out. Especially because they are feeding two chicks now. So the seed stays.

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