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My School's Lonely Zebra Finch

BirdField

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Lindsay
Hello, I've been gone for ages. Didn't intend to be gone for so long, things just took priority.
To get right to it, one of my teachers has a pet zebra finch in their class (along with several other neglected animals that I'm currently working closely with). I don't know too much about this little finch, named Sonorous (Latin for noisy), but I do know that he is very alone, lives in a little cage with caked on poop from what looks like weeks to months of buildup, and has a seed-only diet. I have gotten permission from this teacher to help out with the snakes' setups and hopefully that will extend to helping out with this finch's setup, too.
I have so many questions and I'm not going to bombard the forum with them now, but I just need a place to start for this poor guy. I really don't know enough about finches to feel confident in my decisions regarding how to help improve his situation, so I just need help in general. I'll probably be posting more questions later, but I have a few important ones to start out with.
Firstly, should I try to encourage my teacher to seek out a friend for this bird? I know that finches are incredibly social but I'm wondering if this should take first priority right now.
What do I even begin with? This is an overview of the conditions, there's just so much I don't know where to begin.
Cage: it's pretty small but it does have corners and it does have enough space for Sonorous to flutter around in.
Perches: all dowels and he seems to only flit in between two choice perches at the top of the cage. One swing that he'll use occasionally.
Toys: has a few but I have no clue if they're interesting to finches or what would be interesting to them.
Cleanliness: like I said, buildup of poop across the floor and on his "basket" and "nest."
Other things: is a nest and basket going to encourage hormonal behaviors? If so, should they be removed?
Food: all seeds with the little bitty dyed bead-like pieces in them. Also covered in poop.
Water: in those tube dispensers that get moldy easily, didn't happen to notice if they had mold or not. There is mold in other cages for the snakes and crested gecko, so I would not be surprised if it's in the finch's water.
So I'm just at a bit of a loss.
I have been given permission by this teacher to modify and add to the snake tanks and, hopefully, he may let me work on Sonorous' cage as well. I just need some pointers on what to change and how to change it.
Here's a picture of the little guy.
finch.jpg
He's very friendly so far and he actually approached me when I came over to talk to him. But I know no finch body language or how to interact with them properly, so for all I know he may have been very defensive, which I hope he wasn't. But he is constantly calling out and it breaks my heart to hear him during class, I know he is really in need of a friend.
 

Yoshi&Raphi

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Would it be possible for you to buy or make some natural wood perches for him? You could also buy rope perches, Having all dowel perches can cause pressure sores on his foot.
 

Zara

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The first thing is to sort a schedule where someone cleans the cage regularly.
From there, request some natural branches. Maybe some fake foliage to play in.
Maybe he would like a male friend? I´m not sure how happy the school would be with two birds, but this little guy would be less lonely.

Thankyou for stepping up to try better the lives of these animals Lindsay, I´m sure the snakes and the finch will be happier because of you ❤
 

BirdField

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Would it be possible for you to buy or make some natural wood perches for him? You could also buy rope perches, Having all dowel perches can cause pressure sores on his foot.
Yeah, those dowels concerned me when I first saw him. I've got some branches I cleaned off from trimming our birch tree this past summer that would be perfect for him. I had them for my snake, Copper, but we've got so many I'm sure I could find a few good-sized ones for this guy. Just need to figure a way to safely secure them. Rope perches are also pretty widely available around here, so I'll look into that, too.
The first thing is to sort a schedule where someone cleans the cage regularly.
From there, request some natural branches. Maybe some fake foliage to play in.
Maybe he would like a male friend? I´m not sure how happy the school would be with two birds, but this little guy would be less lonely.

Thankyou for stepping up to try better the lives of these animals Lindsay, I´m sure the snakes and the finch will be happier because of you ❤
Thank you, :heart: it's been a crazy few weeks trying to bring all of this together.
I've been trying to arrange a day where I come into class weekly to help out with the animals, mainly cleaning out cages, etc. I'm still trying to find a day that works but hopefully I can come in at least weekly to be sure the cage stays decently clean. We also tend to have a lot of spare time in that class and it's at the end of the day, so I could even try to clean them during extra class time as well.
Do you think fake foliage like the fake plants used for reptiles would be alright for him? I've got a new never-used fake plant that's just made of plastic (no wire supports inside) that I could spare.
 

Zara

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I've got some branches I cleaned off from trimming our birch tree this past summer that would be perfect for him.
Cool :)

Just need to figure a way to safely secure them.
If they are long and slim enough you can just poke them through the bars on each side. If they are thick, visit the woodwork department at school and ask someone to drill some holes in and add in double ended screws.

I've been trying to arrange a day where I come into class weekly to help out with the animals, mainly cleaning out cages, etc. I'm still trying to find a day that works but hopefully I can come in at least weekly to be sure the cage stays decently clean. We also tend to have a lot of spare time in that class and it's at the end of the day,
Here´s an idea....
What if, there was a schedule made. So, each day (morning or night - whenever there is 5 mins free time) one person goes to the cage, says a gentle hello to the bird and pulls the tray, wipes and lines. Checks that the water is clean and that there is seed avail.
Then weekly, you could properly clean the cage. It would save you time and also, it gives the pupils a chance to get closer to the bird, and learn something. You can´t teach empathy, you have to feel it (tell that to the teacher when proposing the rota ;))
Isn´t what the bird is there for? There must be some educational or other gain otherwise there´s no point having the finch there at all and best rehome him.

Do you think fake foliage like the fake plants used for reptiles would be alright for him? I've got a new never-used fake plant that's just made of plastic (no wire supports inside) that I could spare.
I think they would be ok as long as they are toxin free and you monitor them to make sure he´s not trying to eat them.
Maybe @finchly could confirm your question :)
 

fashionfobie

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Do you think fake foliage like the fake plants used for reptiles would be alright for him? I've got a new never-used fake plant that's just made of plastic (no wire supports inside) that I could spare.
When my finches were separate I used a bit of packing paper and lay it over part of the cage so that the little ones could hide, but also see what is going on. I also used towels so some areas were fully blocked. It helped reduce mad panic, especially for Peppy. Make sure you don't cover too much of the cage, maybe a corner or small area. Just enough so he can find a place to himself.

He is very gorgeous. I am pretty sure you are correct that it is a male from the bright beak colour, but I am not sure. My boys sport the orange cheeks.

V7Ox7.jpg
 

BirdField

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Here´s an idea....
What if, there was a schedule made. So, each day (morning or night - whenever there is 5 mins free time) one person goes to the cage, says a gentle hello to the bird and pulls the tray, wipes and lines. Checks that the water is clean and that there is seed avail.
Then weekly, you could properly clean the cage. It would save you time and also, it gives the pupils a chance to get closer to the bird, and learn something. You can´t teach empathy, you have to feel it (tell that to the teacher when proposing the rota ;))
Isn´t what the bird is there for? There must be some educational or other gain otherwise there´s no point having the finch there at all and best rehome him.
That could work, I'll have to ask him about doing that or having a student doing that every day. Also, your point about education and empathy will certainly help convincing him to help out more with these animals. He's not the most empathetic towards the animals... but he does see them as sources of education. To be perfectly honest, he seems annoyed by the finch because, obviously, he calls a lot during class. The students also tend to get upset about all of his noise. :( He just doesn't seem to be like the most suitable to be a school pet.

When my finches were separate I used a bit of packing paper and lay it over part of the cage so that the little ones could hide, but also see what is going on. I also used towels so some areas were fully blocked. It helped reduce mad panic, especially for Peppy. Make sure you don't cover too much of the cage, maybe a corner or small area. Just enough so he can find a place to himself.

He is very gorgeous. I am pretty sure you are correct that it is a male from the bright beak colour, but I am not sure. My boys sport the orange cheeks.

View attachment 315492
So for this did you place the paper on the inside or outside of the cage? He could definitely use some covered areas to get away, his cage is out in the open and all he's got to hide in is his basket.
I was looking up male vs female zebra finches and I found this picture of two hens, and the one on the left looks almost exactly like "him." So I have no clue if they're a male or female now, I'd just been saying "him" because that's what the teacher called him.
 

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faislaq

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Thank you for helping these animals. The other students (and the teacher!) might learn good habits from you. And to see more value in these animals. :hug8:
If you do decide a larger cage would be best, perhaps an ad on Craigslist asking for a donated cage for your school could work? It might take a while, but no one would have to spend money that way, so no objections, right? Same with anything you need for the other animals. :)
 

fashionfobie

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@BirdField I placed the paper outside of the cage :)

Sexing is always tricky with mutations isn't it. With white finches it should be all about the beak. Photos can be tricky sometimes.

The web image helps. The male has the orange/red beak and the female has a orange hue beak. When you look at your little one again it might click.

b60102279a22fd122fe1234b223126ad.jpg
 

BirdField

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Thank you for helping these animals. The other students (and the teacher!) might learn good habits from you. And to see more value in these animals. :hug8:
If you do decide a larger cage would be best, perhaps an ad on Craigslist asking for a donated cage for your school could work? It might take a while, but no one would have to spend money that way, so no objections, right? Same with anything you need for the other animals. :)
Thank you so much. :heart: It's been a crazy time trying to work everything out (and not getting mad at the teacher's neglect).
Craigslist could definitely help, I didn't even think of posting on there. I'll have to look into that, thank you!
@BirdField I placed the paper outside of the cage :)

Sexing is always tricky with mutations isn't it. With white finches it should be all about the beak. Photos can be tricky sometimes.

The web image helps. The male has the orange/red beak and the female has a orange hue beak. When you look at your little one again it might click.

View attachment 315494
I'll be sure to take a closer look tomorrow in class, it's hard to tell without a comparison. I'll get some paper towels or similar to cover one of the corners a bit. Thank you so much! :)
 

Khizz

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@BirdField

This is a really good thing you are doing, thank you!

I can't help with practical matters, but maybe if you need to further convince the teacher, doing some research and writing up a report about general finch wellbeing might make sure he takes you seriously? Maybe a proposal for a care plan?
 

finchly

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Hi! You're doing something wonderful. If you can't convince this teacher, I'll bet there's another animal lover/teacher there who would be convinced -- and would help you convince teacher #1.

As far as plants, I use both silk and plastic plants in the cages and on the front of cages. I would recommend dollar tree plastic vines -- if they're not in the store you order them online and pick up in the store for free. Silk ones you have to watch for threads and clip them so - plastic is easier.

Actually everyone has fake plants laying around, I'll bet if a class asked there'd be plenty of donations.

I like your idea of the branches a lot. Can't see his drink receptacle, here is what I use:
6oz-bird-drinker_waterer-for-finch-canary-_134-clear-blue__95679.1308155721.jpg

Please visit efinch.com to learn more about finches. For one thing, they're flock animals. They should not live alone.
 

BirdField

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Hi! You're doing something wonderful. If you can't convince this teacher, I'll bet there's another animal lover/teacher there who would be convinced -- and would help you convince teacher #1.

As far as plants, I use both silk and plastic plants in the cages and on the front of cages. I would recommend dollar tree plastic vines -- if they're not in the store you order them online and pick up in the store for free. Silk ones you have to watch for threads and clip them so - plastic is easier.

Actually everyone has fake plants laying around, I'll bet if a class asked there'd be plenty of donations.

I like your idea of the branches a lot. Can't see his drink receptacle, here is what I use:
View attachment 315653

Please visit efinch.com to learn more about finches. For one thing, they're flock animals. They should not live alone.
This is really helpful, thank you! We'll be getting some more stuff over the weekend so I'll keep a lookout for good plastic plants for them.
The water is similar, just a bit longer than those you pictured. I have next to no knowledge of finches, but I assume they prefer the tube-like water feeders as opposed to bowls then?
And one more question, sorry. If another finch is added in, would the gender matter if nesting material is removed? I really don't want this teacher having to deal with babies when they can hardly care for one, but I also don't want to cause any potential bickering between two males / two females. Does this matter at all or am I overthinking it? Thank you so much again for all the information!
Also, here's another picture on their beak, I'm thinking it looks more red than orange.
 

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fashionfobie

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And one more question, sorry. If another finch is added in, would the gender matter if nesting material is removed? I really don't want this teacher having to deal with babies when they can hardly care for one, but I also don't want to cause any potential bickering between two males / two females. Does this matter at all or am I overthinking it? Thank you so much again for all the information!
Also, here's another picture on their beak, I'm thinking it looks more red than orange.
Zebra finches will breed easily in captivity and I don't think it would be a smart idea to have heaps of babies generated at the school. I would add a bird of the same sex to prevent excessive egg laying. If you do get eggs I would replace them with dumby eggs.

Something like Amazon.com : DummyEggs Stop Egg Laying! 7 White Finch Fake Bird Eggs. Solid Plastic Realistic Shape - 5/8" x 1/2" (15 x 12 mm) Society Finch, Zebra Finch, Gouldian Finch, Spice (7 White) : Pet Supplies

I keep two males together and they get along very nicely. I was advised by this forum to keep either 2 or 6+. If you keep 3-5 you can have issues with fighting.
 

finchly

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I agree with Natalie. 2 of the same gender is best. No nest though, even if you do end up with a pair. And if they lay eggs in the food dish throw them out. I have never done dummy eggs for zebs.

I assume they prefer the tube-like water feeders as opposed to bowls then?
Actually - it's me that prefers the tubes, because they don't poop in them like they do the bowls. Germs.

Also, here's another picture on their beak, I'm thinking it looks more red than orange.
I agree but I'm going to take it to some experts and get back to you.
 

BirdField

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