What Does It Mean When a Zebra Finch Is Puffy?

Zebra finches are often kept as pets.
Zebra finches are often kept as pets. (Image: Zebra Finch image by Mike Price from Fotolia.com)

Zebra finches are generally low maintenance pets in terms of the amount of veterinary care you need to provide for them. However, if your zebra finch is puffy and acting abnormally, there is a fair chance that your bird has become ill and is in need of medical treatment and additional care. Evaluate your finch's behavior and appearance to determine if the puffy appearance is indicative of a larger problem.

Male Zebra Finches

If your male zebra finch is looking puffy, it is possible he is simply trying to attract a mate. Male zebra finches commonly puff up their feathers while singing as part of the courting and mating ritual. You can identify a male zebra finch by looking for characteristic gender-specific markings including chestnut-colored cheek patches, black and white zebra stripes that appear on the bird's neck, chest and chin and a beak that is red or orange in color.


When a bird puffs his feathers out, he is typically trying to keep warm. Finches are highly adaptable and can live in many environments, but your finch may become chilled if there is a sudden temperature drop, the bird is exposed to a continual draft in his location or he becomes sick. If your finch's feathers are puffy, look for a source of the chill. You can help your finch warm up by covering his cage or placing a heating pad underneath the cage.


If you can not find an external cause for your finch's puffy feathers, check if your bird is showing any additional signs of illness. Signs of illness include swelling, wheezing, coughing, diarrhea, lethargy and discharge around the eyes, nasal area and beak. A normally active bird that is now sitting at the bottom of his cage with puffy feathers is probably ill.

Caring for a Sick Zebra Finch

Finches are very small birds and, in many cases, the bird may be seriously ill by the time he shows symptoms such as puffy feathers and lethargy. If you believe your finch is ill, call a veterinarian who specializes in treating birds and can perform proper diagnostics and prescribe a treatment especially geared towards treating your finch. In the meantime, isolate the bird away from other birds and animals, keep him warm and provide him with plenty of easily accessible food and water. To prevent illness, ensure the cage is always clean and avoid introducing new birds to your environment unless you are positive the new animals are healthy.

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