The Zebra Finch: A Synthesis of Field and Laboratory Studies


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Zebra finches are tough little birds which are found in Australia and parts of Indonesia. They became popular cage birds in Europe in the 19th century, and were then taken up by laboratories researching bird behaviour and other aspects of biology. Richard Zann is a great admirer of zebra finches, and his affection for these birds is evident in his book, which brings together studies on pet, laboratory and wild zebra finches.

'The Zebra Finch' is a serious academic work, which is nevertheless accessible to hobbyists who simply like zebra finches. The charming illustrations of Michael Bamford are both informative, and have that 'aah' factor. Non-biologists who read New Scientist for pleasure should have enough knowledge to understand the text, though you may need to resort to a dictionary of biology now and then. It is definitely worth persevering if you keep zebra finches. There is a lot of useful material on bird behaviour, for example how zebra finches court and communicate with each other, which can greatly add to the pleasure of keeping these birds. This is an especially useful book for anyone who wants to breed zebra finches, because of the wealth of information on how the birds breed in the wild, which can help keepers to create ideal conditions for their captive zebra finches. There are also useful appendices, for example on colour morphs found in domesticated zebra finches, seeds eaten by wild zebra finches, and zebra finch body languge and calls. There's an extensive bibliography, and an author and a subject index. It's quite a pricey book, but well worth the investment for people who keep zebra finches, because it's a text that you are likely to turn to again and again