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ESL Advanced Reading. Read the passage, then answer the questions.

Zebra Finches as Domestic Pets


 1.  The zebra finch, a native of Australia, is a popular domestic pet in the United States. The bird has many attributes which allow it to be kept at home, though there are also a few negative aspects. The attributes are nest-building, breeding and a lively attitude. The potential negatives are over-breeding and the wildness of the birds.

2.   One of the main attributes of zebra finches is their ability to breed. They are the rabbits of the domestic bird world. Once you have two birds, male and female, you will soon have six, as they breed quite easily and have hardy babies, usually four at a time. An added bonus is their ability to build their own nests. You can place twine in their abode along with some kind of strucutre, and they will create a nest on their own. It's very pleasant to see the ways males and females divide some labors and share others, and the babies grow up quickly. Overall, zebra finches are spunky birds, and their pleasant vivaciousness can liven up any space.

 3.  On the negative side, they will breed and in-breed. Often, in-breeding does little harm and does not cause genetic defects, as happens more often in other species. However, no one can tolerate just any population level. One has to either remove their nests altogether, which basically removes their personal habitat, or check for eggs regularly once a week (the gestation period is 13 days, so even a one-week lapse can lead to births). Eggs can be replaced with dummy plastic eggs, and this prevents females from laying too many. If they do lay too many, they will die from mineral loss.  Since these birds do not tame well, removing eggs can be an unpleasant process of repeatedly invading their personal space.

4.   Overall, it is unfortunate that zebra finches are inexpensive birds due to their high level of breeding. They require considerable care to live happy lives. The best care-takers are true avian fanciers—people who have appropriate space for the nests and enough time to allow them to nest-build and breed without over-breeding.

Answer the questions

1. The main point of the passage is that:
A. Zebra finches over-breed by nature.
B. Only people who love birds can take care of zebra finches.
C. Domestic zebra finches require a lot of care to live happy lives.
D. Zebra finches never become completely tame.
E. Many people keep zebra finches in the United States.

2. In paragrah 3, the word "gestation" means:
A.The period when eggs remain fertile.
B. The time when finches are born.
C. The time required for the parents to create a nest.
D. The time required for baby birds to develop and hatch.
E. The day the first baby finch is born.

3. According to the passage, attributes of domestic zebra finches include:
A. their vivaciousness and their singing
B. their nest-building, sharing of responsibilities and vivacious personalities
C. their in-breeding, which does not cause as much genetic harm as in other species
D. their ability to be tamed
E. the fact that they are from Australia

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Answers: 1. c, 2. d, 3. b