Finch Behaviour Problems


The commonest problem you’ll encounter amongst birds is aggression. In a large aviary where individuals can find personal space and escape to the far corners of the enclosure, you have a better chance of getting the balance right, even with a mixed flock of birds. In smaller setups you will need to have some extra ‘cooling down’ cages for aggressors (or their victims). Some species are pretty incompatible, and many others become aggressive when hormones boil over in the breeding season.

Canary Rivals

Canaries in the breeding season sometimes enter into bouts of competitive singing, even if they are being kept in separate cages. Although this can be pleasant to the human ear, a constant song-based faceoff between the birds can cause them stress, and it’s best to move one of the competitors out of earshot, if possible. If the songsters are housed together in an aviary, there’s little you can do. The confrontation may end in a scuffle, or one of the birds may grow so exhausted that he retreats to a quiet corner. Keep an eye on any such development, to make sure the ‘loser’ doesn’t fall ill.


Hens sometimes lay eggs when there has been no mating. It is mating and nesting that require the specific stimulation of courtship and bonding, not egg-laying per se. If a hen lays eggs without a cock bird, they will of course be infertile. The eggs will often be laid in the food tray - the nearest thing to a nest that the hen can find.

Hot or Cold

A bird with drooping wings and open beak is probably over-heated. Make sure there’s shade available in your cage setup, if the bird is outside. Indoors, you could move the cage to a cooler room; but that room will have to be bird-safe. A hot bird is not usually in any danger, and if it’s a consequence of hot weather he will simply spend more time than usual sitting and panting. You should still be watchful, though, as panting behaviour in your birds could indicate a disease and should be referred to the Finch Health section of this guide.

A fluffed-up bird could, again, indicate illness; but your finch may simply be cold. If there’s anything you can do to safely heat up the environment, do so. A cover over the cage at night will help.

Canary feet
The feet of a Canary can be a clue to its health

Owners whose pet canaries or Zebra finches perch on their fingers learn to recognise the normal temperature of their pets’ feet. If the bird is hotter or colder than usual, they can tell by the foot temperature. This is a useful gauge, a starting point for further investigation - i.e. is the hot or cold down to the ambient temperature, or are there other signs that could indicate the onset of illness?

Mating Urge

It sometimes happens that a cock finch enters the breeding season earlier than the hen. In this situation the female will not be receptive, and the frustrated male will begin chasing, or even attacking her. If this happens the pair will need to be temporarily separated.


A tired bird might not be ill - he might just not be getting a good uninterrupted night’s sleep. If there are lights on in the house, or security lights interrupting outdoor slumber, the finches will not be happy. They need an uninterrupted rest from dusk until dawn, all year round.


Some cock finches become over-zealous in defending their nests while the hen is incubating the eggs. Given enough space, other finches will soon learn to keep away. In a smaller cage, this is an untenable situation, and is one of the reasons why finches are generally kept in breeding pairs.

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Grey, 11 April 2021

I have a female and a male zebra finches, so when the male wants to mate with her, she doesnt let him. She would keep on jumpint from stick to stick and doesnt let him get on top of her. What should i do?

Annie, 7 April 2021

I woke up this morning to find that my female zebra finch had killed my male finch. I was so upset. He was the sweetest finch I ever had. He had been chasing her around and she was avoiding him lately. They have eggs she’s been sitting on for more than two weeks but have not hatched. They had another batch previously they abandoned. Its very unusual that they were aggressive with each other because when i first brought him in they hit it off right away and slept in the same nest. She did not get along with her previous mate, who was stolen from the cage. They wouldn’t sleep in the same nesting area together. But she took so well to this one and then they had eggs. I have had Finches for years and I’ve never seen aggressive behavior, much less where one killed the other. Wish I had read these posts earlier, I would have separated them. Thinking he was horny but she was not, being an expectant mother and all? Or maybe he’s infertile since eggs may not hatch? Lesson here is to separate your finches if you see aggressive behavior, because apparently it can lead to murder. Having a Viking funeral on the lake for sweet little Stormy this weekend. Best to all the bird lovers out there.

Sarah, 29 March 2021

Hi, i have a pair of bengalese finches that have laid 4eggs, but i also have 2male zebras, now sometimes the female being sits on her eggs but one of the zebs keeps taking over the eggs, should I remove him, or will he rear the young himself?

Lucille, 17 March 2021

My society finches were doing great had 3 babies. They all sleep in one nest but the last two days the two males are fighting one male will not let the other male into the nest. I feel bad every time he tries to go in the other one attacks him and he’s out of the nest by himself. What could have happened to change them getting along

Xenia, 25 February 2021

Why my zebra finch sleeps a lot after laying up two eggs? Is it normal? Or should I visit a vet?

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