Finches, unlike the common parrot, have different dietary needs. Unlike wild finches who are traveling miles every day in search of food, household finches cannot be placed on an all-seed or mostly-seed diet. They simply don’t get the same amount of exercise or enrichment as a wild finch; an all-seed diet can cause malnutrition, obesity, and even death.
Finches need a mixture of seed, vegetables, fruits, and insects to fully thrive in captivity. It’s important to keep these little birds happy and healthy with a diverse selection of foods every day, just as they would find in the wild. Meeting their nutritional needs will help promote skin health, feather gloss, beak and bone strength, and give them plenty of energy.
Pellets over an All-Seed Diet
Pellets are a great option over seeds, especially if you can’t afford fresh meals for them, as pellets already come with the correct amount of nutrition for a thriving finch.
There are many pellets on the market, but we recommend the LAFEBER’S Premium Daily Diet for finches. It seems to be a finch favorite.
Baby finches are significantly easier to feed pellets to than adult finches who are already accustomed to a certain meal plan. In fact, it can be a downright frustrating and potentially dangerous to try and get adult finches to suddenly eat pellets only, which can result in them starving or malnourished.
If you go this route and your finch has never eaten anything in their life other than seed, then you need to learn to slowly acclimate your bird to pellets. At first, you should have about 75% seed and 25% pellet in their feed bowl every day. Your finch isn’t going to eat them immediately, so some will be wasted as you wean them. Once they start to pick at the pellets, you can move forward.
I’ve found that soaking pellets until they’re mushy can make it easier for them to get accustomed to. A soggy pellet is better than no pellet, in my opinion.
Once they start to nibble on the pellets, switch the ratio to 50% seed and 50% pellet, and then down to 25% seed and 75% pellet and lastly a 100% pellet diet. Weaning them slowly is important so that they don’t fast and starve themselves.
Now you have a bowl of soggy pellets. This is good, it’s still leagues above their original diet, but soggy pellets can harbor bacteria if not cleaned out every day. Soak them in water for less time every single day so that you can slowly wean them from wet pellets to dry pellets.
By the end of this, your finch should be eating pellets without any problem.
Pellets are a perfectly valid route to go for a finch’s diet, but if you want to give them a true natural diet, then you’re going to have to invest some time and money into preparing fresh mixes with seeds, seed sprouts, vegetables, fruit, and insects.
How Much Seed & Which Kinds
Sources say that a finch should have about 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of seeds per bird per day. This constitutes close to or less than 10% of their daily nutritional need.
This may not seem like a lot, but finches are small, and most of their dietary needs will come from what you add to the seeds.
Finches will readily and happily eat a few types of seeds including:
You can also try sprouting the seeds for better nutritional value. Sprouting just means that you let the seeds grow a little so that they are more dense in nutrients. Put the seeds on a soaked paper towel, cover them with another soaked paper towel, and leave them for 24 to 48 hours to grow.
A finch’s daily diet should consist of mostly vegetables and should not include pale vegetables like lettuce and celery. Organic and non-frozen is preferred.
Avocado should never be given to finches – it looks innocent, but not only is it mostly fat it is highly toxic to almost every bird species.
Below are appropriate vegetables to give your finches daily:
Make sure to wash vegetables thoroughly in warm water to remove chemicals and pesticides. For tougher veggies like broccoli, use a food processor to grind them into manageable bits for your finch.
A finch should have a little fruit in their daily diet for sugar and energy.
Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit should never be given as they are too acidic. Avoid giving any fruit seeds to your finches, like apple or pear seeds, as these contain cyanide. Always take the seeds out of fruit.
Fruit that are good choices for your finch are outlined below:
Make sure to wash fruit thoroughly in warm water to remove chemicals and pesticides. For tougher fruit like apples and pears, use a food processor to grind them into manageable bits for your finch.
The last part of their diet consists of insects. During some parts of the year, finches with consume insects for fat and protein, so adding a little bit into their daily diet can help promote their health. Insects also provide a bit of mental enrichment, as they crawl around and require a bit more work to eat.
Mealworms and waxworms will do the job just fine. Adding about three to five mealworms to their food bowl every day is recommended.
A Healthy Finch is a Happy Finch
No bird should be on an all-seed diet. Giving your finch a good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, seed sprouts, and insects will do wonders for their health and happiness. You’ll see their behavior, energy, and looks improve drastically on a good finch diet!
If you have any questions about finch care and diets, don’t hesitate to comment below!