Do you ever wonder what finches eat to maintain their vibrant colors and melodious songs? Prepare to flitter your wings (!) as we explore the captivating world of finch feeding habits and reveal the delightful delicacies that keep these charming birds thriving.
Finches primarily eat a diet of seeds, including a variety of grass, weed, and flower seeds. They also enjoy consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears, lettuce, and broccoli. In addition, some finches supplement their diet with insects and small invertebrates for added protein. Not only these, but they have a large list of foods to eat. However, their food habits change in different seasons, such as summer and winter. Let’s fly through the post: What do Finches Eat?
- 1 Finches Diet List
- 2 Different Species of Finches and Their diet list
- 3 What do finches feed their babies?
- 4 Foods to avoid for finches
- 5 That’s all folks!
- 6 FAQs
Finches Diet List
Finches are a diverse group of birds belonging to the family Fringillidae, and their diets can vary depending on their species and habitat. While it is true that many finches are classified as granivores (seed-eating birds), they are also known to be omnivorous to some extent. Though seeds have the most prominent place in their diet list, usually they also eat different kinds of nectar, fruits, and vegetables depending on the availability of food resources with the changes of the season. Here is a detailed list of common food items that finches consume:
|Seeds||Seeds form the primary food source for many finch species. They feed on a variety of seeds from wild plants, grasses, and trees. The specific type of seed that a finch species eats depends on their individual dietary preferences, habitat, and availability. Finches may also consume small seeds which are important sources of carbohydrates. The most favorite and healthy seeds for finches are- Sunflower seeds, Millets, Canola seeds, Nyjer/Thistle seeds, Safflower seeds, Corn, Buckwheat, Oats, Rapeseeds (also known as canola), Canary seeds. |
Additionally, Sprouting Seeds can be a nutritious addition to a finch’s diet, providing live enzymes, increased nutrient availability, and a fresh food source. Sprouted seeds such as mung beans, lentils, and alfalfa can offer finches a healthy and stimulating food option.
|Grains||Finches have a varied diet that includes a range of grains. Some of the grains commonly consumed by finches include quinoa, buckwheat, rice, cracked corn, ground corn, oats, barley, white millet, red millet, and millet branches or sprays. These grains provide essential nutrients and energy for finches, supporting their overall health and vitality.|
Quinoa and buckwheat offer protein-rich options, while rice, cracked corn, and ground corn provide carbohydrates. Oats and barley are excellent sources of fiber, contributing to digestive health. White millet and red millet are particularly favored by many finch species, and offering millet branches or sprays can provide both food and enrichment for these birds. By incorporating these grains into their diet, finches can enjoy a diverse and nutritious meal plan.
|Nectar||Nectar is a sweet liquid produced by flowers to attract pollinators such as birds and insects Nectar finches, such as Hummingbirds, primarily feed on. Nectar from flowers.. Hummingbirds are specially adapted for nectar feeding, with a long, thin beak and a brush-tipped tongue that allows them to extract the nectar from deep within the flower. Overall, the nectar from flowers provides the primary source of energy for nectar finches. House finches love it to the fullest.|
|Insects||Finches are omnivorous birds that primarily feed on insects and spiders, including beetles, ants, wasps, and caterpillars. These insects provide important nutrients such as protein and fat, which are essential for the growth and survival of finch young.|
The specific types of insects that finches consume can vary depending on the species of finch and the season. For example, during the breeding season, female finches may feed their young with high amounts of caterpillars, as they are rich in protein.
|Fruits||Finches can eat a variety of fruits. Some common fruits that finches may eat include: Berries such as mulberries, blueberries, and raspberries, Grapes, Raisins, Dried fruits, dried foods such as apricots and Figs, Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Cherries.|
|Vegetables||Usually, some common vegetables that are safe for finches to eat include Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. And without these Carrots, Peas, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Broccoli, Peppers, and Cucumbers are included in the finch’s diet list.|
|Water||Finches consume varying amounts of water depending on various factors such as their species, age, diet, and climate. On average, finches need about 15 milliliters (0.5 ounces) of water per day to meet their hydration needs.|
However, in hot and dry climates, finches may consume more water to maintain hydration. On average, a finch-sized bird may need approximately 5-10% of its body weight in water per day. However, it’s important to note that this is a rough estimate and individual needs can vary.
|Cuttlebone and Mineral Grit||Offering a cuttlebone or mineral grit is beneficial for finches. Cuttlebones are a great source of calcium, which helps with bone health and eggshell formation in breeding females. Mineral grit provides essential minerals and aids in digestion by grinding food in the bird’s gizzard.|
While grit (small particles like sand or crushed shells) is often provided to birds for aiding digestion, there is indeed some debate about its necessity for finches. Some experts believe that finches, with their specialized beaks, can effectively process seeds without the need for additional grit. However, others argue that providing a small amount of grit may offer benefits.
To err on the side of caution, it is generally recommended to provide a minimal amount of grit to finches if you choose to do so. This can be in the form of fine gravel or commercial bird grit specifically formulated for small birds. However, always monitor your finch’s behavior and consult with an avian veterinarian or an expert in bird care to ensure the appropriate diet and feeding practices for your specific finch species.
|Pellets||Pellets are another option for providing balanced nutrition to finches. Pellets are formulated to contain a variety of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can support the overall health of finches. They can be offered as a part of a well-rounded diet alongside other foods like seeds, fruits, and vegetables. It’s important to choose pellets specifically formulated for small birds like finches and ensure they are fresh and of high quality.|
|Eggfood||Egg food is a commercially available supplement specifically formulated for finches and other birds. It contains a mixture of eggs, grains, and other nutrients to provide additional protein and essential vitamins.|
|Moreover, finches can be offered a range of human-made foods as part of their diet. Including small portions of cheese, hard-boiled eggs, mashed fish, and cooked meat can provide them with added protein and nutrients. However, it’s crucial to feed these foods in moderation and alongside their regular seed and fruit intake to maintain a balanced diet for the finches’ overall health.|
|Finch-friendly homemade meals||Finches can be offered a range of both commercial and homemade foods as part of their diet. Including small portions of finch-friendly homemade options, such as sprouted seeds, chopped leafy greens, and fresh fruits, alongside their regular seed and fruit intake can provide them with added variety and nutritional benefits. It’s important to feed these homemade foods in moderation and ensure they are suitable for finches’ dietary needs. |
Additionally, foods like hard-boiled eggs, cooked meat, mashed fish, and cheese can be included as occasional treats, offering added protein and nutrients. However, it’s crucial to monitor their consumption and maintain a balanced diet for the overall health of the finches. If you have no idea how to make food for house finches or other finches, then watch some tutorials about food recipes for finches on YouTube.
Overall, finches are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of the food sources that are most readily available in their environment.
During summer, finches eat:
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, millets, canola seeds, safflower seeds, and corn.
- Insects: Beetles, ants, wasps, and caterpillars (especially during breeding season).
- Nectar: Hummingbirds and other nectar-feeding finches rely on flower nectar for energy.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Berries, lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens, along with carrots, peas, and squash.
- Water: Adequate hydration is essential, and fresh water sources are vital.
In winter, finches eat:
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, millets, canary seeds, thistle seeds (Nyjer seeds), safflower seeds, and rapeseeds.
- Fruits: Winter berries like juniper berries and rose hips.
- High-Energy Foods: Suet, peanut butter, and high-fat seeds like black oil sunflower seeds.
- Water: Providing unfrozen water sources or heated birdbaths is important for hydration.
By adapting their diet to the seasons, finches find suitable food sources to support their survival and well-being.
Different Species of Finches and Their diet list
It’s important to remember that the specific diet of a finch may vary based on the species, the time of year, and the availability of food in its natural habitat. Additionally, captive finches may be fed a different diet than those in the wild.
|Zebra Finch||Zebra finches generally eat a variety of small seeds, as well as insects and spiders. In the wild, they feed on grass seeds, millet, canary seeds, mealworms, and other insects.|
|Society Finch||Seeds including canary seeds, millet, and sunflower seeds are major resources in their diet. They also eat fruit, such as apples and grapes, and vegetables, such as lettuce and carrots.|
|Gouldian Finch||Gouldian finches feed on seeds, such as millet, canary seed, sunflower seeds, green shoots, and fruit, such as figs and berries. In the wild, they feed on grass and herb seeds.|
|House Finch||Without the common one Caterpillars, beetles, tulips, elm seeds are their most favourite|
|American Goldfinch||Nyjer seeds, black oil, Sunflower seeds, and a wide variety of fruits are their most favorite.|
|Purple Finch||Grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, mealworms, honeysuckles, and apricots are their favorite.|
|Green Singing Finch (Yellow-fronted canary)||Canary seed mix (including canary grass seed, niger seed), Sprouted seeds, Wild grass seeds (panicum, millets), Leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard), Small amounts of fresh fruits (berries, oranges).|
|Cut-throat Finch (Amaranthine)||Finch seed mix (including millet, canary seed, and smaller seeds), Sprouted seeds, Wild grass seeds (panicum, millets), Leafy greens (lettuce, kale), Fresh fruits (grapes, apples).|
|Red-headed Finche||Finch seed mix (including millet, canary seed, and smaller seeds), Sprouted seeds, Wild grass seeds (panicum, millets), Leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard), Small amounts of fresh fruits (berries, pomegranate).|
|Spice Finch (Scaly-breasted Munia)||Finch seed mix (including millet, canary seed, and smaller seeds), Sprouted seeds, Wild grass seeds (panicum, millets), Leafy greens (chard, dandelion greens), Fresh fruits (grapes, apples).|
|Java Rice Finch||Finch seed mix (including millet, canary seed, and smaller seeds), Sprouted seeds, Leafy greens (lettuce, spinach), Chopped vegetables (carrots, cucumbers), Small amounts of fresh fruits (berries, melons).|
|Owl Finch (Taeniopygia bichenovii)||Finch seed mix (including millet, canary seed, and smaller seeds), Sprouted seeds, Wild grass seeds (panicum, millets), Leafy greens (romaine lettuce, parsley), Small amounts of fresh fruits (grapes, blueberries).|
|Parrotfinches (Erythrura)||Finch seed mix (including millet, canary seed, and smaller seeds), Sprouted seeds, Wild grass seeds (panicum, millets), Leafy greens (bok choy, watercress), Small amounts of fresh fruits (kiwi, pineapple).|
What do finches feed their babies?
After a few days of hatching, the father finch brings mashed seeds inside his beak. As the baby finch’s beak is not strong enough to eat hard foods, the father finch brings mashed vegetables like sunflower seeds, dandelion seeds, weed seeds, and thistle. A mother finch stays in the nest for around 5 or more days to keep her babies safe. Then both parents go to forage food, as the cheeks are fledged.
However, if you find a baby finch or want to pet them, make sure to give them a mixture of crushed seeds mixed with water. A few days later, when they start to grow features; you can provide them with smashed insects. You can also provide them with raw liver and hard-boiled eggs. It’s crucial to ensure that the food provided is finely chopped or mashed into small, easily digestible pieces for the baby finches.
Plus, when hand-rearing baby finches, it’s important to maintain strict hygiene practices, including using sterilized equipment and ensuring the food is fresh and uncontaminated. It’s also recommended to follow a specific feeding schedule and gradually introduce solid foods as the finches grow and develop. Remember, if you encounter a baby finch or wish to care for them, it’s best to seek advice from professionals who specialize in avian care to ensure the proper diet and care are provided for their well-being.
Foods to avoid for finches
While there are many foods that finches can enjoy, there are certain foods that should be avoided as they can be harmful to their health. Here are some foods that finches should avoid:
Avocado: Avocado contains a substance called persin, which can be toxic to birds, including finches.
Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to birds and can be harmful if ingested.
Caffeinated beverages: Drinks like coffee and tea contain caffeine, which is also toxic to birds and should be kept away from finches.
Alcohol: Alcohol can have severe effects on a bird’s central nervous system and should never be given to finches.
Salty or sugary foods: Finches have specific dietary needs, and excessive amounts of salt or sugar can disrupt their delicate balance. Avoid giving them foods high in salt or sugar, such as chips, candy, or processed human snacks.
Seeds treated with chemicals: Some seeds meant for human consumption may be treated with chemicals or pesticides that can be harmful to finches. It’s best to offer them organic or bird-safe seeds.
Dairy products: Finches are lactose intolerant, and dairy products can cause digestive issues. Avoid giving them milk, cheese, or other dairy items.
Raw onions and garlic: Onions and garlic contain compounds that can be toxic to birds and should be avoided.
Foods high in fat: While finches need some fat in their diet, foods high in saturated fats, like greasy or fried foods, should be avoided as they can lead to obesity and health issues.
Unripe or spoiled fruits: Unripe fruits may contain toxins or be difficult to digest for finches. Also, spoiled or moldy fruits can be harmful to their health, so it’s important to offer fresh and ripe fruits.
Remember to always prioritize the well-being of your finches by providing them with a balanced and appropriate diet. If you have any concerns or questions about their diet, consult with an avian veterinarian for guidance.
That’s all folks!
Finally, we can say that finches are omnivores that consume a diverse diet of seeds, fruits, insects, and nectar. The type of food they consume can vary depending on their species, habitat, and availability of food sources. Finches play an important role in maintaining ecological balance by consuming and dispersing the seeds of various plants. So it is important to provide a balanced and varied diet for pet finches to ensure their optimal health and well-being.
What are the main types of food that finches eat?
Finches primarily consume seeds, including a variety of grass, weed, and flower seeds. They also enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears, lettuce, and broccoli. Additionally, some finches supplement their diet with insects and small invertebrates for added protein.
Do finches change their diet based on the seasons?
Yes, finches adapt their food preferences based on the changing seasons. During summer, they may consume more seeds, insects, and nectar from flowers. In winter, their diet typically includes seeds, winter berries, high-energy foods like suet and peanut butter, and access to unfrozen water sources.
Are all finches considered granivores (seed-eating birds)?
While many finches are classified as granivores, they also exhibit omnivorous behavior to some extent. Their diet can include a variety of foods, such as nectar, fruits, vegetables, and insects, depending on their species, habitat, and food availability.
Can I offer homemade or commercial foods to finches?
Yes, finches can be offered both homemade and commercial foods as part of their diet. Homemade options may include sprouted seeds, chopped leafy greens, and fresh fruits, while commercial options like pellets and egg food can provide balanced nutrition. It's important to ensure that any additional foods are suitable for finches and offered in moderation to maintain a balanced diet.
Kazi Rifat is the Editor & Author at Birds Indeed, a blog dedicated to all things avian. With a passion for birds and a background in Computer Science, Kazi brings a unique perspective to the world of bird watching and conservation. Follow along on his feathery adventures and learn something new every day.