Home | Bird Research or Recent News | Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata, Nutrition – the role of carotenoids and testosterone

Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata, Nutrition – the role of carotenoids and testosterone

Zebra Finch

While we are all aware of the importance of good nutrition to our pets, it is interesting to see just how complex this topic can be. Keeping this in mind will, I hope, prevent us from becoming lazy when it comes to feeding even relatively hardy birds such as the zebra finch.

As in most animals, male zebra finches utilize the hormone testosterone to help develop secondary sexual characteristics, such as their bright red bills. However, this comes at a cost, as testosterone has also been shown to weaken the immune system.

Carotenoids – compounds that impart yellow and orange colors to carrots and other foods – also help male finches to maintain their bright colors and, as a consequence, to attract females. The finches obtain carotenoids from their diet.

Recently, researchers at Arizona State University have shown that, in addition to imparting color, carotenoids also combat the negative influences of testosterone in zebra finches. Males deficient in carotenoids suffer depressed immune systems, while those with a sufficient intake benefit from testosterone by becoming more attractive to female finches.

This information reinforces the importance of a providing our birds with a well-balanced diet, and may have implications for human health as well. I suggest feeding your zebra finches a variety of nutritious foods, including such important basics as Goldenfeast Australian Blend Bird Food / Tropic Fruit Pudding and ZuPreem Fruit Blend, to assure a sufficient intake of carotenoids and other nutrients.


Interesting research concerning the effect of diet on zebra finch reproduction is posted at:

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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