Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. February 6, 2017
Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers?

If this is the first time you have a zebra finch, you will probably be very surprised when you notice it has started to tear out its feathers. This type of behavior, which can be quite scary for new owners, may be due to several factors.

Are you wondering why does your zebra finch tear out its feathers? Stay with us at AnimalWised and we'll tell you the answer, as well as give you some tips to prevent the problem, avoid further complications and give your zebra finch extra care and a special diet during this time.

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Before and during laying eggs

If you have a male and a female zebra finch in the same cage, especially if the cage is small, the answer to why does your zebra finch tear out its feather is quite easy: they want to breed and start a nest together.

Zebra finches can lay eggs several times a year, like hens. If you have a couple of zebra finches together, or several couples, they may become receptive to each other and start a courtship process. However, you must prevent young females or sick individuals from breeding, as it can be seriously detrimental to their health. You should also prevent zebra finches from breeding if you can't feed them extra vitamins and calcium.

To prevent your zebra finch from tearing out its feathers when trying to make a nest youhave several options:

  • Separate the pair of finches: This way you will avoid the courtship and the consequent pulling out of feathers altogether. Although the breeding season is in the spring, if the birds see each other the courtship will continue.
  • Offer material to make the nest: You can provide your nesting zebra finch with goat or coconut hair, available in pet shops. This will prevent them from pulling out their feathers. Some owners choose to switch the finches' eggs for false ones to avoid having to raise more finches, but the parents may be able to tell the difference and become apathetic or even more stressed.
  • Avoid the breeding season using lemon drops: This practice is widely used among finch owners, and it involves putting a few lemon drops in their water. It is not at all harmful to their health.

If you do decide to let the zebra finches breed and nest, you should take a look at our article on how to protect a zebra finch nest.

Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers? - Before and during laying eggs

Why do zebra finches tear out each others' feathers?

It may also be the case that a finch removes the feathers of another during this time. You must pay close attention to your birds' behavior.

If you only have a couple of zebra finches, it may happen that the male is very active and having only a single female she may be worn down from copulating. At this point, the male zebra finch may try to peck at her to encourage her. The best way to prevent this from happening is to add an extra female lodger.

An entirely different matter is when two finches of the same sex live together and one of them is particularly dominant or aggressive. In this case, it is also a good idea to add an extra individual in the cage, but the marked character will not disappear. You will simply make coexistence more pleasant for the the submissive finch.

Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers? - Why do zebra finches tear out each others' feathers?

During the molting period

Like many birds, during the fall and the spring the zebra finch usually molts its plumage. It is usual in these times to observe an excess of feathers at the bottom of the cage and on the soil; this is normal and you shouldn't worry.

However, during the molting period you can take some steps to help your pet zebra finch.

Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers? - During the molting period

Feeding a zebra finch that tears its feathers out

Indeed, the diet of the zebra finch is the pillar that will ensure the bird is not physically worn down and therefore recovers its plumage. This will happen faster if we promote a good situation and a good dose of supplements.

To start with, the finch needs quality and complete food, with seeds that are exclusive for finches. It also requires that on a regular basis you offer it fruits and vegetables suitable for zebra finches.

All zebra finches should have a cuttlefish bone in their cage, since it's a necessary contribution of calcium that should always be within their reach. Here you can learn about the nutritional properties of cuttlebone for pets. As an extra, you can also place gritt at the bottom of the cage. Gritt is a mineral substance that adds to their digestion and calcium intake.

Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers? - Feeding a zebra finch that tears its feathers out

Vitamins and egg food for zebra finches

If we observe that our finch is especially down or worn out by the loss of feathers, we must think about using vitamin supplements and even egg food or breeding paste, especially if we want to make them breed.

We can find vitamin supplements in any shop, as there is a very varied range dedicated to birds. Among them we can find products with multiple nutritional properties, especially calcium and vitamin C. We recommend that you go to an exotic vet so that they can guide you, as they know better than anyone what vitamins are the most appropriate in your case.

Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers? - Vitamins and egg food for zebra finches

Making egg food for zebra finches

Breeding paste or egg food, on the other hand, is a very complete meal that should be offered during egg laying and chick rearing. Still, this kind of food is not exclusive for breeding; it can also be used to enrich the zebra finch's diet and improve its calcium intake.

You can make your own egg food for zebra finches at home; we will give you a simple step by step guide. You will need:

  • Store-bough dry egg food
  • Rusk
  • Yeast for birds
  • Vitamin complex for birds
  • Honey
  • Egg
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils
  • Orange

You probably already have eggs, honey and orange at home. The other ingredients can be found at pet shops that provide food for birds. When you have all the ingredients you can start making the homemade egg food:

  1. Boil the rusk in water until it has absorbed all the liquid.
  2. Hard-boil the egg.
  3. Add and mix all the ingredients by hand. Do not peel the hard-boiled egg; crush it with the shell.
  4. You will get a spongy and dense dough - done!

Remember that this breeding paste contains egg, which at room temperature may go off. To avoid problems we recommend that excess egg food be stored in the refrigerator and used in two days.

Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers? - Making egg food for zebra finches

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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my white finchs have the same coloue beaks one is male the other is a female the male sometime gets In her back like they are trying to mate is there something I can use for beding for them
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Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers?

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