Thursday, August 30, 2012

More on Society Finches

There is a strange dearth of information available on Society Finches.  Before I added them to my aviary late last year, I did what I always do with a new pet: buy at least one book on caring for that pet.  Alas, books on Society Finch care were not to be found.  Now, Zebra Finches- lots of books.  Happily, books about Finches in general acknowledge the Society Finch.  This gives one enough information to care for the birds, but not enough to satisfy the hardcore bird keeper, like me.  Maybe I'll write a book on Society Finch care myself someday.  For now, let me share some things I've learned so far about Society Finches.

Society Finches are less boisterous than Zebra Finches.  Societies chirp and tweet softly- not  infrequently but not frequently either.  Zebra Finches are reactive to the sounds of the house such as oven timers, people whistling and dogs whining.  The Zebras chime in.  The Societies stay out of it.

While other caged Finches tend to pair off (not necessarily as mates, often simply as best friends) Society Finches tend to hang out in threes.  If two of the three were to become a breeding pair, surely that dynamic would change.  Someday I hope to observe this occurrence- when I do, I'll report on it. 

This may be true only with my small group of Societies but nobody seems to like to sit on a swing.  Toys don't seem to appeal to them either.  They do, however,  perform somersaults.  These gymnastics only seem to occur on perches situated high enough in the cage to allow the bird to reach the ceiling with his beak.  The bird grabs a bar above his head which starts the somersault motion.  One of my Societies does several somersaults in a row.

Society Finches enjoy a good seed mix (I have the luxury of an excellent bird store near my home that offers fresh seed mixes for various birds including finches, canaries, parakeets and parrots.  I keep Finches and Canaries, so I mix the two seed mixes together because Canaries and Finches seed needs overlap).   The seeds in the mix include niger, rape, hemp, canary grass, millet and poppy. For added nutrition, a small amount of pellet food is included in the mix. 

Birds need protein but I haven't been able to get any of my birds to eat bugs.  Fresh bugs, alive or dead or even mashed with a fork, are ignored.  However, they love hard boiled egg yolk mixed with couscous or quinoa.  For added calcium (in addition to mineral grit, of which the Societies don't eat much) crushed egg shells. A coffee grinder works great to pulverize the eggshells. Worrywarts warn that it's critical to cook the egg shells to kill any bacteria that may be lurking.  I use a food steamer to hard boil eggs.  This cleans the egg shells just fine.  Still, some folks choose to bake the shells in the oven to double kill the germs.

Societies like vegetables and greens and fruit.  Clip the food to the side of the cage with a clothes pin and they nibble at it.  Occasionally they tear off a chunk and toss it around the cage.  In the spring and summer the birds particularly enjoy dandelion greens.

Societies typically bathe twice a day.  They groom each other now and then.  They squabble occasionally but not with the vigor of Zebra Finches. There is none of that hissing and chasing around the cage going on with Societies.  Their disagreements usually start with a stare.  Seriously, one bird appears to be giving another bird a dirty look!  If the stared upon bird doesn't move away the starer gives him a peck or two upside the head.  The pecked upon bird will sometimes peck back and sometimes move to another part of the cage.  Either way, that is pretty much the whole fight: stare- peck- over.

Even though the birds have plenty of room to spread out, Societies spend time during the day and most of the night huddled up close and sometimes even stacked on top of each other.

How can you tell a male Society Finch from a female Society Finch?  Females lay eggs. 

I'm told that experts can tell male from female by a slight difference in the shape of their bills.  Other than that mysterious possibility, boys and girls look the same.  No fancy colors on the cheeks or wings or even tail feathers (Societies don't have any tail feathers, just a sort of rump tuft) to designate gender.  There doesn't even seem to be a vocal difference between the sexes.

Then again, my little group may be all girls.  I know they aren't all boys; there's been a few eggs. 

I will keep an eye on the goings on and report any new discoveries...

Please see my previous post on  Society Finches


  1. Finches are sooo cute.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. My parakeet Sam liked hard cheese. He would also eat small bits of meat. Wouldn't touch bugs, though.

  3. Hi, I just started keeping finches and bought a whole clutch (5) from a breeder who is working on developing a color. One other easy way to know one of your birds is a male is that he will sing. If you have more than one male the dominant male will sing and the other male may not. I find these little birds amazing.

    1. Thanks for the info, Beth. I must have all females because nobody sings. They sometimes chatter but there is no melody evident. I may have to add to my flock and hope one of the newcomers is a dominant male.

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