Feed a good quality finch seed mix, although this should never the sole diet of your finches. Check that the seeds are fresh by sprouting them (put some in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel) - if they will not sprout then they are too old to feed. Millet sprays are a favorite treat of many finches but should be given sparingly, or the finches may develop a preference for millet.

Zebra Finches originate from Australia. Zebras live in open grasslands with some bushes and trees.  They live in dry areas over most of Australia.  They live in groups and eat mostly grass seeds.  They build their nests in bushes out of grass, straw, feathers and anything else they can find.  They lay 3-6 eggs and both parents participate in raising the young.  The currently accepted taxonomic nomenclature for the Zebra is "Taeniopygia guttata castanotis".

"Does it have a hormonal basis? Is it a stress response? That would be the interesting thing to look at next."

"It's not that they do it spontaneously whenever it's hot; they do it when it's hot and when the embryos could potentially hear them," she said.

The surprising discovery suggests that the birds are preparing their offspring for warm conditions after they hatch.

Ideal housing for zebra finches is a large flight cage, or an aviary for housing finches – they will appreciate the space. Finches are not long-lived birds, living only about 3 to 5 years, and if you’re really lucky, a bit beyond.

It is a mystery, she added, how being smaller gives the birds an advantage in the heat. But it may be because growing in hot conditions is costly for the body, placing more oxidative stress on tissues - so staying small becomes a better strategy.

Zebra finches are originally from the arid areas of Central Australia, they can still be found in large flocks there. They can also be found in Indonesia and East Timor.

Timor Zebra (T. guttata guttata) - The only subspecies of Australian Zebra finch

Zebra finches are fun and easy to have in your home.  They are a pleasure to view and their soft chirping is soothing.  Whether you want only one pair to keep you company or you want to be a breeder with many birds, Zebras are a joy.

"I wondered - hmm, are they talking to their eggs?"

"They adjusted their growth to temperature differently, and also solicited food from their parents differently."

When it comes to their nails usually they are naturally maintained. However, in the event that they do become long you will have to trim your bird’s nails. Nail clippers are fine to use yet you will want to make sure that you do not clip their “quick” or they will bleed.

The morphological differences between the subspecies include differences in size. T. g. guttata is smaller than T. g. castanotis. In addition, the T.g. guttata males do not have the fine barring found on the throat and upper breast of T.g. castanotis, as well as having small breast bands.

Zebra finches are small birds and are active and fun to watch, but quiet when it comes to vocalization (chirps and peeps that most people find easy to tolerate). Although small, they need a fairly large cage in order to have flight room (the length of the cage is more important than the height). All finches are social and should be kept in pairs - and a male and female pair will usually breed quite readily so you may want to consider keeping only females.

This is a supplement that is very important for breeding birds but that can be fed in moderation to non-breeders as well. You can buy commercially prepared eggfood supplement or prepare your own (recipes linked at FinchWorld).

When it comes to maintaining their health there is not much that you have to do. The most important thing that you have to do is make sure that they are eating a balanced diet. However, you do need ...

Scientists collected eggs and incubated them in controlled conditions, playing recordings of the incubation song.

The Zebra finch is like the 'white lab rat' of the finch world. No other finch has been studied as closely or had as much written about them as the Zebra finch. There are numerous studies of wild Zebras in their natural environment as well as laboratory studies of song learning, imprinting and mate selection to name just a few.

Inbreeding causes early death (inbreeding depression) in zebra finch.[12] Embryo survival (that is, hatching success of fertile eggs) was significantly lower for sib-sib mating pairs than for unrelated pairs. Inbreeding depression mostly arises due to the expression of deleterious recessive alleles.[13]

"We found that, depending on whether or not they had heard the 'hot call' from their parents, they reacted differently to heat," Dr Mariette explained.

As soon as they hatched, the 175 chicks were returned to various nests and the team observed the youngsters' development in detail.

These are excellent balanced diets and are nice to offer as part of a varied and balanced diet. Be sure to get good quality pellets especially formulated for finches, and you may need to be persistent in offering pellets before your finches will try them if they are not used to eating them.

Provide fresh drinking water daily. Some keepers prefer tube style water dispensers, while others use dishes either attached to the cage (with perches for access) or on the floor (place away from perches to reduce soiling with feces). Whichever you use, make sure there is always a supply of fresh clean water available, and clean water dished daily.

A 1 cent stamp from Australia featured the Zebra finch. (click to view stamp).

She first noticed the rhythmic, high-pitched calls while making field recordings during her PhD.

Male finches use their songs, in part, as a mating call. The mating act is usually accompanied by a high-pitched whining sound. They will also exhibit a hissing sound when protecting their territories.

They collected eggs and, for the final five days of their incubation, played them either a recording of the birds' special egg-song, or a typical parent-to-parent call instead.

Breeding: Zebra Finches can be mated from about 6 months old and will produce a clutch of 4-6 eggs in about 12 days. As with all pets, breeding Zebra Finches requires much commitment of time and effort. It is recommended that you therefore seek expert advice and do appropriate research before considering keeping a breeding pair and only if youre certain you can find good homes for the babies.

Zebra finches inhabit a wide range of grasslands and forests, usually close to water.[3] They are typically found in open steppes with scattered bushes and trees, but have adapted to human disturbances, taking advantage of human-made watering holes and large patches of deforested land. Zebra finches — including many human-bred variants to the species — are widely kept by genetic researchers, breeding hobbyists and pet owners.

"They're not actually thinking, 'Mum says it's hot out there, I better take it slow when I get outside!' But it's having some kind of physiological effect on their body which is making their growth rate slow.

Zebra Finch

Being a lightweight is generally bad news in evolutionary terms, but when the researchers followed the finches' fortunes into adulthood, it proved the opposite: those lighter birds that grew up in hot nests produced significantly more fledglings than their heavier childhood companions.

Lastly, strings can be very dangerous for birds as well yet they love playing with them. However, it is possible for the string to become tangled around their neck or leg and even get caught on the cage which results in them becoming hurt. In hope to prevent this you may want to make sure that all strings are shorter than two inches. Alternatively, you may want to consider shredded burlap.

Previous studies have mostly concentrated on egg-bound embryos learning particular calls from their parents.

If you are a first time Zebra owner it is not uncommon to be unsure about which cage to buy. It is suggested that you purchase a cage that contains bars that are as big as one half inch since...

Writing in the journal Science, the researchers say this is the sort of adaptation that could help animals acclimatise to rising global temperatures.

Zebra finches are distributed over much of Australia and the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara), which are north-west of Australia.

Zebra finches live to be 4-8 years of age.  I have heard of birds living to 10 and 12 years old, but I think this is rare.

Zebra Finches come in assorted colours and markings. Common colours include fawn, grey, and white. Typical markings include black breasted, penguin, yellow beak, and crested.

My recipe for good avian care is a bright clean room, a good vacuum cleaner, lots of love and a proper Lafeber diet. My birds and I are writing this letter to thank you for 10 years of good health. Keep on doing what your doing.