Finches are small, lively passerines that are commonly kept as pets. In the wild, their diet consists of insects, newly sprouted seeds, and small seeds — both fresh and dried. Captive finches need a diet that closely approximates what they would eat in the wild. Finch food should come from a variety of sources and incorporate fresh food, carbohydrates, and protein.
Dried seed is a convenient and readily available finch food. The types of seeds in commercial mixes vary, but most contain some combination of canary seed, red pannicum, and assorted millet strains. Millet is also available dried on the stem as millet spray. Finches, as well as most small birds, love millet and would gorge on it and nothing else if they could. This is not healthy, and finches should not have constant access to millet sprays.
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Hulled sunflower seeds are tasty additions to any finch diet, but the seeds need a light chopping or crushing to make pieces small enough for finches to eat. Pellet finch food is a nutritious combination of necessary vitamins and minerals. It is as convenient as dried seed but specially formulated to meet the dietary requirements of finches.
Fresh vegetables and fruit add natural enzymes and fiber to a finch’s diet. Finches enjoy most fresh food, including grated or finely chopped apples, broccoli, or carrots. These small birds are especially sensitive to environmental toxins, and bird owners should wash all fresh foods to remove any residual pesticides.
Greens are a popular finch food. Greens include milk thistle, chickweed, and sprouted seeds. Finches also enjoy the flowers of these plants. Milk thistle and chickweed are easy to find growing wild, but finch owners should make sure the plants are pesticide free before offering them to their birds. Seeds, either from fresh seed heads or from dried seed mixes, are easy to sprout at home; however, the sprouts can develop mold after a short amount of time and should not be fed to the birds.
Live insects are a protein-rich finch food. Not only do most finches appreciate an offering of live insects, but some species of finches require them in order to breed. Live mealworms and wax worms are sold at most pet shops, and they are easy to store and keep alive for several bird feedings. Hard-boiled chicken eggs are another source of protein. An egg, shell and all, cut into small pieces is enough to feed several finches.