Whether raising finches for your own enjoyment or contemplating their commercial potential, society finches are worth considering. Also known as Bengalese finches, society finches are peaceful but social birds that are well-known for their prolific nature. They are, in fact, so good at parenting that breeders often use them to foster other varieties of finches.
Information on the Species
Society finches, Lonchura domestica, are not found in the wild. According to Efinch.com, they likely originated in China hundreds of years ago. They are the result of crossbreeding other types of finches, including the white-rumped mannikin. This long history of domesticity is perhaps responsible for making them such easy breeders. Colors vary from rich chestnut to albino and include variations with splotches of white, such as chocolate pied or fawn pied. They grow to a size of 4 to 5 inches. The males do most of the singing, with females joining in only rarely. Otherwise, there is little to distinguish the males from the hens except for laying eggs.
Choose a Habitat
Society finches can be housed in cages, flight cages or aviaries. In warmer climates, an outdoor aviary can be considered. If the temperature drops below 40 degrees, however, indoor accommodations are a must. Finches prefer flitting about to walking. For this reason, PetEducation.com suggests wide is better than tall when it comes to housing. They do not have the same penchant for toys as parrots but enjoy additions such as swings or ladders. They also like baths. A shallow container of fresh water on the floor of the cage will suffice for this activity. Consider adding a few live plants to make the habitat more finch-friendly. Be sure the plants are in no way toxic to finches.
Nests are a necessity. Society finches roost in the nest, and as many as can will often squeeze together in one nest for a good night's sleep. Avianweb.com recommends a separate cage for pairs that are breeding since this habit of bundling together often spells disaster for the tiny hatchlings. According to eFinch.com, Society finches will use just about anything for a nest. The site offers instructions on making your own nests from milk cartons. However, bamboo hooded nests or half-open nest boxes are also good choices. Nesting material is available for purchase online or at many local pet stores. Some breeders choose to provide bits of string, dried grasses and paper for the nests.
Health and Nutrition
If your finches are not outdoors, they need full-spectrum lighting for 10 to 12 hours each day. This is necessary for the birds to synthesize Vitamin D, which is vital to bone health. Supplies and timers for the lighting are available at pet stores or online.
Society finches require a varied diet of seeds, greens and fruits. Ready-made, balanced mixes are available for purchase. One website, Efinch.com, offers a recipe for making your own blend. Additional calcium via crushed oyster shell or eggshells, along with grit to aid in digestion, is necessary as well.
If your birds become ill, check Avianweb.com for an emergency care plan. While not intended to substitute for veterinary care, the plan offers guidelines to follow until you contact a veterinarian. This site also offers a listing of avian veterinarians by state.
Sometimes Enough is Enough
Society finches are so good at raising chicks that breeders must sometimes stop a pair from hatching for a time. The hens will continue to lay if you simply remove unwanted eggs from the nest. Thus, many breeders recommend buying dummy eggs to replace the real thing until you are ready for more finches to join your bird society.