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Characteristics of Finch Birds

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There are hundreds of species of finches, which can be found in the wild almost anywhere in the world. Although each species differs from one another, they do have certain characteristics in common. Certain species of these birds are also popular house pets, and they have some common care requirements.

Physical Characteristics

Although finches vary in color and size, according to their species, they have some physical characteristics they share. They're all relatively small, commonly measuring between 4 and 6 inches, excluding their tails. They tend to have round heads, with triangular-shaped bills, and either rounded or slightly elongated bodies. Their tails are forked or notched and their wings are noticeably pointed.

Social Characteristics

Finches are social birds who like company. In the wild, they often live in flocks or loose groups. If you're keeping pet finches in the home, they should never be housed alone. Keep either a pair or a group of six members or more. Two pairs of finches kept together have a tendency to fight, but larger groups get along just fine. They should only be kept in species groups or with other compatible finches.


Primarily granivorous, finches' diets can be characterized as consisting mostly of grains and seeds. However, their food choices are slightly more varied than this -- eating fruits, plant matter and insects in the wild -- so be careful not to feed pet finches a seed-only diet, or they could develop some health problems. Offer them a high-quality pellet bird food, along with fresh fruit and vegetables -- especially calcium-rich leafy greens -- and boiled eggs.

Other Common Characteristics

There are several other characteristics finches share. They're shy birds who don't like to be touched by humans, so handling should be kept to a minimum to avoid stress. Relatively quiet, these birds vocalize via a system of of beeps and chirps and have simple, yet musical, songs. A healthy finch should be energetic and active and should eat and drink throughout the day, although mostly in the morning and early evening.