Zebra finches are loud and boisterous singers. Their calls can be a loud beep, meep, oi! or a-ha!. Their song is a few small beeps, leading up to a rhythmic song of varying complexity in males. Each male's song is different, although birds of the same bloodline will exhibit similarities, and all finches will overlay their own uniqueness onto a common rhythmic framework. Sons generally learn the song of their fathers with little variation. There is a critical sensitive period during which juvenile males learn their songs by imitating a mature, male tutor. Subsong (early vocalizations) evolve into 'plastic song'. This plastic song is variable between renditions but begins to incorporate some recognizable elements of tutor songs. A study conducted by Nottebohm et al. , has shown that birds were able to successfully imitate their tutor’s song after relatively short exposure (40 playbacks of the motifs lasting 30 seconds total) over the duration of their sensitive learning period. These birds eventually form a “template” of what their correct song should sound like. They rely on auditory feedback for both song learning and practice as juveniles and song maintenance as adults. Adult birds maintain their songs by correcting any deviations from their target song template. During adulthood, by around 90 days, the bird’s song goes through a crystallization phase where their song template is stable and it no longer changes.
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.