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White Zebra Finches?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Are white zebra finches rare? i just got a very nice cage for FREE!!! smile I was wondering if I  should go with normal Zebra Finhces or get a white one? I think the pet sotre has a white male? Would this cause cross breeding? Thanks

post #2 of 5

C&Rman :

Are white zebra finches rare? i just got a very nice cage for FREE!!! smile I was wondering if I  should go with normal Zebra Finhces or get a white one? I think the pet sotre has a white male? Would this cause cross breeding? Thanks


There are different forms of "white" zebra finch, but none is a "breed." They are all mutations. In other words, what makes a zebra finch "white" is just one gene. What makes a "breed" is an assortment of genes. Look at dogs, for example. In Labrador retrievers, there are three recognized colors -- black, liver (also called chocolate), and yellow. Crossing a black lab with a chocolate lab will not result in "crossbreeds." You will still have labs, and the puppies will either all be black, or some will be black and some will be liver/chocolate. The difference between a black lab and a liver/chocolate lab is just one gene. However, poodles are a different breed of dog. Crossing a poodle with a lab will not give puppies that are either labs or poodles. They will be something in-between. This is because the difference between a lab and a poodle is a whole bunch of genes. This is the simplest way I can think of to describe it for you.

Now, like I said, there are different kinds of "white" zebra finches. You said the "white" zebra finch at the pet store is a male. Zebra finches that are solid white can't easily be differentiated by sex, because there are no markings on them. You can tell somewhat by behavior, beak color, and some other clues, but it's not as easy as with the other colors. There are two ways (that I know of) to get a solid white zebra finch. One is by what is called "recessive white" and the other is by being pied. Some pied zebra finches have no colored feathers at all, and appear totally white. The two are hard to tell apart just by looking, but because their color is caused by different genes, if you don't know what kind of "white" you have, it's possible that two "white" zebra finches can have offspring that aren't white, if one parent is a recessive white and the other is a pied.

There is a third mutation that has "white" in the name, and I think it is actually prettier than the solid whites. This kind is called "chestnut-flanked white" or sometimes "marked white." In these birds, all the gray body feathers are white, but the males keep their orange cheek spots and the orange colors on their sides (hence the term "chestnut-flanked white"), as well as the black barring on the chest and black markings on the tail. Males and females both have the black tear-drop marking, but females lack the orange colors found in the male. Thus if the "white" zebra finch you see in the pet store has black tear-drop markings, it is actually a female chestnut-flanked white. If the bird is a male chestnut-flanked white, it will retain the orange markings and the black breast. This mutation is sex-linked. If the pet store bird is a male chestnut-flanked white, and you breed him to a female of another color, you will be able to tell the offspring apart by color. Males will be the color of the mother, and females will be the color of the father.

If you want to see a great website with lots of information on different colors in zebra finches, check out www.zebrafinch.com. Have fun!

:-)

~Chris

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks, one more question, I know that Zebra Finches breed allot! We used to raise them. What should I do with the babies once they get older? I read that as soon as the babies are able to go out of the nest they start to breed again. And if the babies are still in there it would cause stress is that true?

post #4 of 5

C&Rman :

Thanks, one more question, I know that Zebra Finches breed allot! We used to raise them. What should I do with the babies once they get older? I read that as soon as the babies are able to go out of the nest they start to breed again. And if the babies are still in there it would cause stress is that true?


Yes, zebra finches DO breed a lot. It's actually more of an effort to PREVENT breeding than to induce it. They are actually the bird version of the "lab mouse" or "lab rat" because of how easily they breed in captivity. I work with them (and budgies) in a lab studying auditory perception at school. So you are right in wondering what to do with them.

Before you breed, you should know where the babies are going. If you plan to keep them, have some kind of housing ready for them in advance. If you plan on selling them, be sure you have a buyer (or source for buyers) before the eggs are laid. There are already a lot of these birds out there. Cage-birds aren't like poultry because when there is an excess of poultry produced, the option of "processing" them for food exists. So be sure you know what you're doing if you plan to breed.

As to when the babies need to be removed...that depends on the size of their cage, and the behavior of the breeding pair. Some pairs get cranky when fully grown babies interfere with their desire to breed again, while others just kind of ignore them and go about breeding anyway. If you have an aviary, there's more room for the grown offspring to "get away" from cranky parents. But it all depends on the particular pair. If I was the one breeding them, I'd remove the babies as soon as they were eating on their own, just to be safe.

If you want freakishly-tame zebra finches, you might want to research hand-feeding. I don't recommend removing the babies from the parents completely unless they are abandoned, or if you REALLY know what you're doing (raising baby finches entirely by yourself is a lot of work). But you could try something called "co-parenting." If your parent finches are used to you, you can try giving the babies supplemental hand-feedings while they're in the nest. Try doing it a few times a day, but don't remove the nest entirely. You could try feeding the babies while the nest is in the cage, or maybe removing one at a time for a few minutes a few times a day. It'd be a lot of work, but if you know someone who wants an unusually tame pet finch, it might be a fun project. And, if you let the parents continue to care for them as well, you always have the option of quitting if you find it's too much work. If you remove the birds entirely, the parents will forget that they are theirs, and then you're stuck being the one to care for them completely.

Hope that helps. Good luck, and have fun.

:-)

~Chris

post #5 of 5

I am from W.Michigan and have white zebra finches. You will know when to take the babies out, and for us that was a couple months after they came out of the nest.
I remove the eggs as they lay them, because I do not want to overbreed these birds! God bless!

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