Maintaining Your Finches

In order to keep your finches happy and healthy, you must do the following:
  • Provide fresh, drinkable water daily (do not add antibiotics, vitamins, or disinfectants to the water)5,2
  • Make sure that there is ample, fresh food (e.g. a dish may appear to be full of seed, but may in fact contain only empty seed hulls)
  • Clean the cage as it becomes dirty (including: perches, dishes, cage bottom, and nest)
  • Disinfect the cage once per month with a properly diluted bleach solution or other suitable disinfectant
  • Provide only fresh moist foods, and be sure to remove them after a period of about 4 hours to prevent the birds from eating spoiled/rotten foods
  • Monitor your birds' droppings for color, consistency, amount of feces/urine/urates (any significant change should be suspicious)
  • Do not place the birds in an area with heavy traffic, loud noises, etc. to prevent stress (as stress can help precipitate many health-related problems)
  • Do not place your finches' cage within reach of a hooked-bill bird (such as a parrot), because they tend to be noisy and are capable of injuring finches easily
  • Be careful to keep any pets that might disturb or harm the birds (such as bird dogs, rodents, snakes, and cats) away from the bird cage at all times!
  • Regularly provide your birds with the opportunity to bathe by placing a wide, shallow dish filled about ¼" deep with water in their cage; make sure to keep the water clean since they will often drink out of the bowl
  • Check the cage for any signs of bleeding (drops of blood on the perches), or feather loss that is not related to molting
  • Observe the birds daily to make sure bickering is kept to a minimum and no finch appears sick
  • Make sure your birds are receiving adequate, proper lighting

After all of this, if a bird still does become sick, isolate it immediately in a hospital cage (with fresh food and water in shallow dishes at the bottom of the cage placed within easy reach of the bird--do not give the bird grit or fruits and vegetables, but rather spray millet and seed which has been soaked in water for 24 hours then well rinsed), and provide ample heating (~90° F or 32° C) by using a heat lamp placed well above the cage (to prevent burns) or a heating pad wrapped around it. This way, the finch can use its own energy fighting off the illness and not trying to keep itself warm. Do not handle the bird extensively, examine it, or try to force feed it (unless absolutely necessary); instead, call an avian veterinarian for further assistance. Because birds are naturally great at hiding illness, when they appear sick they are usually seriously ill and do need veterinary care.

Dying Gouldian
Severely depressed gouldian finch

Dying GouldianMoribound gouldian on floor of cage.
Signs that your finch may be sick5 are:
  • Half closed eyes (acting "sleepy")
  • Holding feathers away from the body ("fluffing up") for extended periods of time
  • Sitting on the bottom of the cage
  • Allowing you to handle them (lethargy)
  • Swollen vent
  • Feces or staining around the vent (due to diarrhea)
  • Discolored/bloody feces, or other change in dropping appearance not due to dietary change
  • Scaly feet
  • Labored breathing (open mouth breathing, tail bobbing)
  • Poor appetite
  • Drooped wings
  • Shivering
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Discharge from eyes, nares ("nostrils"), vent
  • Abnormal growth of beak/nails
  • Inability to fly
  • Weakness

Another task necessary in maintaining your bird's health is to trim its nails whenever necessary (to prevent injury). Purchase a pair of small bird nail clippers (or pediatric nail clippers) and either some styptic powder (e.g. Kwik-StopTM) or a Restraining a Finchlittle flour/cornstarch for the event that the nail begins to bleed (meaning you cut off too much). Restrain the bird in such a way that it cannot escape (while not holding it so tightly that it cannot breathe), and gently secure its leg between two of your fingers to hold the leg still. Hold the nail up to the light (if necessary) to locate the blood vessel. Do not cut into the blood vessel ("quick"), but instead cut just a little off the tip of the nail; avoid the blood vessel.Nail Clippers In case you do clip too much, quickly apply the powder/flour to the nail so the bird does not bleed to death. If you find that the powder will not adhere well enough to the nail to stop the bleeding, you may also cauterize the nail with heat or silver nitrate (do not get silver nitrate on your skin or anywhere else on the bird or it will burn). Be sure to sterilize the nail clippers before using them on the next bird. Sterilization can be achieved by dipping the blades of the nail clipper in rubbing alcohol for 10 seconds and then carefully running the blades through a small flame (match or lit candle) until the alcohol burns off. Obviously be careful not to burn yourself or anything other than the blades of the nail clippers. Allow the clippers to cool and wipe off any soot before using them on the next bird.

The beak, under normal conditions should not need to be trimmed, as the birds keep their own beak trimmed naturally. If, however, your bird's beak is in need of trimming, hold its head gently but securely and use a small pair of scissors (such as cuticle trimmers) to CAREFULLY remove just a little from the overgrown area. DO NOT cut off too much, as this will cause a great deal of problems (the bird will be unable to eat). The overgrown area may also be filed gently with a very fine grain emory board (the kind used for "buffing" finger nails). You may file the beak down instead of trimming it if the overgrowth is not severe. If you do not feel confident that you can trim the bird's beak on your own, an avian vet will be able to do it for you. Trimming Nails and Beaks contains more detailed descriptions on how to trim bird nails and beaks.

Has this article helped you? Please consider making a donation to keep online and growing!

Disclaimer: As the creator of, I take no responsibility for any mishaps which you may experience in following any advice given, nor in purchasing any products suggested. I will therefore not be liable for any consequences that arise from following any advice provided in these pages.

External SiteExternal sites open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Proceeds will be used to help this site grow.

©2024 No part of this page (including, but not limited to pictures, articles, advice, logo, or otherwise) may be copied or retransmitted by any means without expressed written permission from the author/creator of this page.

This page is hosted by DreamHostExternal Site.

Styles: Former FIC | Art Deco | Spring | Magazine