True finches are small, colorful, boisterous birds belonging to the Fringillidae family, which also includes the subfamilies of Ploceidae, Estrildidae and Passeridae. There are many other birds that carry the finch name but belong to other families such as the waxbill, sparrow or bunting finches.
Finches have become very popular pets over the years with Gouldian, Zebra and Society Finches leading the way. Finches are known for the vibrant, beautiful plumage, their mating song and their social graces.
Full-grown finches range in size from three inches to eight inches in height and can reach between ½ ounce to one ounce in weight or between 16 and 27 grams.
All true finches have nine main feathers on each wing. These feathers give the finch birds flight and project out along the outer edge of the wing. True finches also all have twelve tail feathers which are split into two sections and have a forked impression.
Most finches have round heads and torsos but some species have more of an elongated body. Due to breeding in captivity, finches come in an endless variety of colors and patterns. While some are a beautiful red like the Strawberry Finch, others are more subtle in color like the Society Finch and still other finches have striking colors and patterns like the gorgeous Gouldian Finch also known as The Lady Gouldian. The actual shape of their beaks varies and is dependent on the types of foods they eat.
Finches generally have two types of calls, flight calls and mating songs which can range from a very simple ‘meep’ sound to a very complex combination of beeps, chirps and warbles.
Finches are very social birds; they need the company of other birds to be truly happy and to adapt to their environment. If the bird is kept by itself, it will become lonely and depressed. This will usually lead to illness and death. It is important to the bird’s health that finches are always kept in pairs.
Another very important characteristic of finches is activity. These little birds are built for hours upon hours of continuous flight in the wild. They exhibit the same need for constant activity in captivity. These birds need room to roam and reach full flight. If they are kept in an environment that doesn’t allow them much room for flight, again they will become depressed and ill.
There are over a hundred finch species, and each species has their own colors, patterns and personalities. Finches are so popular because of their plumage, song and the fact that they are very easy to care for, a joy to watch and make a valuable addition to any family.