Zebra finch breeding is quite simple from making sure the environment is comfortable and safe enough for the birds, to their proper diet.
Both mother finch and father finch help in the nest process to make it comfortable and a temporary home for their younglings. The father finch will pick up pieces of string or grass and show them to the mother finch. She will carefully weave these materials into a concave comfortable enough for the eggs. Since your finches are caged, and cannot go out to look for materials to use in building their nest, you should provide them with materials such as, burlap and feathers. During this stage, don’t over-clean your cages or aviary; leave a few feathers since they can be used as a lining to make the nest soft and comfortable.
Once the nest is established, the female zebra finch is ready to incubate her eggs and hatch them. Eggs usually are laid once per day. After the last egg is laid, incubation begins. The female zebra finch incubates her eggs while the male zebra finch takes over every once in a while to give the female time to stretch, rest, eat, and drink.
The eggs will start hatching about thirteen days after incubation. Zebra finches can lay a maximum of eight eggs, but usually have 2 to 5 eggs in their nests.
When the eggs hatch it is time to feed your nesting finches with rearing / nestling food – a very crucial stage – which provides them with enough supplements. Other breeders feed their birds with rearing food before and after the eggs are laid.
Making your own nestling food may consist of a hard-boiled egg, fruits, and vegetables. Make sure the egg is completely cooked especially the yoke. Mash the entire egg: egg white, yolk, and shell. The shell is extremely loaded with calcium and the higher amounts of calcium the better.
After mashing the egg, mix pieces of finely chopped vegetables and fruits. Commonly used vegetables are parsley, broccoli, celery, turnip greens, and spinach. Acceptable fruits are bananas, oranges, apricots, apples, and grapes. Feed to the nesting birds several times per day but make sure to remove the egg if the birds do not immediately eat it since eggs spoil quickly.
Do not constantly handle the eggs to check if they are fertile or not. If there is any way that you can check on them without actually handling them, the better. Frequent handling may clog tiny pores in the shell where air goes through.
In 2 and ½ weeks, you should stop nest checking them so you do not startle the young birds and have them leave the nest early.
The birds will leave their nest for the first time when they are 3 weeks old and will feed themselves in about 4 weeks. At 5 – 6 weeks, the birds are well sufficient and may be removed from their parents’ cage into a separate one; soon after they will start to manifest characteristics that will enable you to distinguish male from female.
Always remember when zebra finch breeding, remove the nest after the birds start feeding on their own, unless, you want another clutch. It is advised, however, to limit your clutches to not more than 3 per year. If you want another clutch, it is absolutely necessary to remove the new self-feeding finches and transfer them to another cage, otherwise they may prompt their parents to chase them and pluck their feathers because they are interfering with the next clutch.