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Diet for Finches (including Canaries)

Commonly kept finches are: Canaries, Zebra, Lady Gouldian, Owl/Double Barred, and Java Sparrows

A common mistake in caring for finches is to feed too much dry seed. Dry seed alone is very high in fat while being low in protein and many essential vitamins and minerals. A finch or canary kept entirely on dry seed can end up with multiple problems such as poor feathering, respiratory disease, fatty liver and diabetes. The best diet for finches includes finch seed, pellets and vegetables, and small amounts of fruit, other small seeds and nuts as a treat.


The diet we recommend be fed:

Finch or canary seed – 1-2 tablespoon per day

A good seed mix will include: a range of millet, plain canary grass seed, panicum, and canola seed. Seed can be up to 50% of the diet.


High quality finch and canary pellets

These are low in fat, and high in vitamins and minerals that your bird needs. Pellets should form 25% of the diet.

We recommend:

  • Vetafarm Finch & Budgie Crumbles

  • Passwell Crumbles

  • Harrison’s Lifetime Superfine Pellets

A range of fresh fruit and vegetables

These should always be available for your bird and provided fresh daily.

Fresh grass

  • Finches usually appreciate seeding grasses as they can forage for the fresh seeds, some favourites are: panic veldt, winter grass and guinea grass.

  • Milk thistle is also good for birds

  • You can grow or sprout your own millet and canary grass from bird seed as well

Fresh water always available and changed daily


Treats – good for training and enrichment

These should be provided in small quantities only (1/8th tsp daily max)

  • Millet spray

  • Fruit (e.g., berries, apple, watermelon)

  • Hemp seeds

  • Chopped nuts

  • Egg and biscuit

  • Crushed plain wholegrain crackers

Converting to Pellets – tips and tricks

  • Mix 50/50 with seed in the normal food bowl. Only provide enough food for 1 day – 1-1½ teaspoons of each. If seed is provided in excess of daily intake, your bird won’t get hungry enough to try the pellets. Gradually reduce the amount of seed once your bird is eating the pellets.

  • Try moistening the pellets and rolling into balls with seed – as your bird picks at his favourite seeds some pellets will be eaten and he will get the taste of them.

  • At the same time, remember to offer vegetables either mixed in or in a small separate bowl

  • Patience, patience, patience – it may take several weeks before your finch willingly eats pellets.

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