How to Hand Feed Baby Zebra Finches

Written by jennie dalcour
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How to Hand Feed Baby Zebra Finches
Zebra finches have a zebra print pattern distinguishing them from other finches. (Zebra Finch image by Mike Price from

For the dedicated bird owner and aficionado, successfully hand-rearing a baby zebra finch is exceedingly rewarding. Baby zebra finches, with their striking black and white pattern, are appreciated for their beauty and soft, melodic song. These birds grow to be only 4 inches tall and begin life extremely small and fragile. Occasionally, when a baby bird has fallen from the nest or has been rejected by its mother, a baby zebra finch will need to be hand-fed to survive. While hand-feeding a baby finch is difficult, the bird owner can employ caution and perseverance to achieve the ultimate goal of a healthy, weaned zebra finch.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Water
  • Water bowl
  • Tube water dispenser (optional)
  • Electrolyte formula -- pedialyte
  • ½-cc Tuberculin syringe with needle removed
  • Commercial hand-rearing baby-bird food
  • Toothpicks
  • Pipette
  • Adult pellet food
  • Juice

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  1. 1

    Provide fresh water daily to ensure bird droppings do not soil the water bowl. If the water cannot be changed daily, recommends using a tube water dispenser.

  2. 2

    Fill a ½-cc Tuberculin syringe with an electrolyte formula for the first feeding. Place the tip of the syringe at the bird's beak until the beak opens. Allow small amounts of the electrolyte formula to drop into the bird's mouth. Give the electrolyte formula every two hours for three feedings.

  3. 3

    Mix hand-rearing baby-bird food with the electrolyte until the mixture achieves a very thin consistency.

  4. 4

    Dip a toothpick into the mixture and then place at the finch's mouth, allowing the thinned food mixture to enter the bird's mouth.

  5. 5

    Watch the formula mixture fill the bird's crop, the food storage sack on the side of its neck, until it is full. Kristine Spencer, writing at, advises baby zebra finch owners to repeat this process each time the crop is emptied, about every hours for the first three days.

  6. 6

    Mix the baby bird food powder and the electrolyte formula into a thicker mixture starting on the fourth day. Using a pipette, continue to feed the mixture to the bird until its crop is filled. The finch will need to be fed approximately every 1 ½ hours as its crop empties.

  7. 7

    Blend the mixture to the consistency of pudding starting on the eighth day. Feed the bird every two to three hours.

  8. 8

    Offer small amounts of adult pellet food that has been moistened with juice once the bird has started to grow feathers.

Tips and warnings

  • Some baby finches will not naturally open their beaks to eat. To induce them to open their beaks stroke their backs and tap on their beaks.
  • advises baby finch owners to avoid feeding between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. so the bird's digestive track can completely empty each day and operate more efficiently.
  • Sterilise feeding equipment before and after each feeding.
  • warns that injury and even death can occur due to incorrect hand-feeding practices. Only experienced bird owners and breeders should hand feed and only under avian vet guidance.
  • Overfeeding the baby zebra finch can result in bacterial infection.

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