If you have male and female finches of the same species in the same cage, nature takes it course and they will breed. You can provide your pets with nest boxes and materials such as hay in which to lay and hatch their eggs. There's a point in the incubation process when a parent should sit on the eggs at all times, but that doesn't correspond with the appearance of the first egg.
Most finch species reach sexual maturity at about the age of 3 months, although you should wait until they fully mature before allowing your birds to breed. Depending on the species, full maturity occurs between the ages of 9 months and 2 1/2 years.
Leave Them Alone
By nature, finches are flighty, nervous creatures. They aren't keen on human company at the best of times, but during breeding and egg-laying season, finches especially don't appreciate human interference. Keep an eye on your birds and their egg-laying, but try to avoid physically bothering them. Since male and female finches both sit on their eggs, take note of when you see a bird in the nest most of the time. Actually checking the nest for the number of eggs while a finch is sitting on them can cause nest abandonment.
After mating, a female finch can store sperm in her reproductive tract for up to 16 days. Female finches generally lay an egg every day, commencing between five and seven days after breeding. The average clutch consists of four to six eggs, although the overall number varies from three to eight. An egg can remain fertile for about a week without incubation, so don't panic if a finch doesn't sit on eggs right away. Many finches don't start sitting on eggs until all or almost all of the eggs are laid.
Once a pair starts sitting, they must do so nearly around the clock until the chicks hatch. It's fine if the eggs are left unattended for short periods, while the parents seek nourishment or a little exercise, but leaving the eggs for more than 30 minutes is a red flag. If breeding more than one pair, you can try slipping the abandoned eggs into another nest for "fostering." The incubation period varies by species, taking between 12 and 16 days. Eggs might not all hatch at the same time, so wait several days after the initial hatchlings emerge before concluding that other eggs in the nest don't contain viable chicks.
- Zebra Finch Society: Zebra Finch FAQs
- Finch Information Center: Eggs (Including Clear Eggs and Egg Repair)
- Santa Clara Finch Club: Setting Up Your First Finch Cage
- Finch Information Center: Nest Checks
- Journal of Experimental Biology: What Comes First, the Zebra Finch or the Egg -- Temperature-dependent Rreproductive, Physiological and Behavioural Plasticity in Egg-laying Zebra Finches
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.