Joining together individuals who share a common interest in breeding Carduelan species in captivity
three species of Parrot Finches commonly available and bred in Australian
aviaries and these are: Red Faced Parrot Finches, Blue Faced Parrot Finches
and the Tanimbar or as some call them Three-coloured Parrot Finches. There
are also at least three other species occasionally available and these are
the Bamboo Parrot Finches, Peale’s Parrot Finches and the Royal Parrot
Finches, however for some reason these are not doing as good as the first
three I mentioned above, and when offered for sale they are well over the
price range most of us would be prepared to pay for. In the late 90’s
while in Europe I have seen most of the species of Parrot Finches, they were
selling from about (equivalent AUD) $50 to $100 Australian dollars a pair.
Red-eared or the Mount Kataglad Parrot Finches (Erythrura coloria) were
selling for less than $60 a pair. I started breeding finches in mid
seventies, Parrot finches were always on my list, I tried breeding them on
many occasions without success. Amazing, the price for a pair of Red-faced
Parrot Finches in those days was about $80 and today 35 years later is still
$80, the only thing that has changed is the pay, an average weekly wage was
approximately $80 then and today more that 10 times that!
I built a good size outdoor aviary for Carduelan species that I’m “addicted to” and one day I bought a pair of Red-faced Parrot Finches, thinking ‘why not have another try’ and I wasn’t disappointed. These birds were like Zebra finches could not stop breeding. They stop in January for a quick moult and they’re back on the nest three to four weeks later. From the two breeding pairs of Red-faced Parrot finches that I kept last year, I produced over 40 young. Overwhelmed with my success I added a pair of Tanimbar Parrot Finches to my collection, thinking why not try them as well. The pair I bought were very young uncoloured birds and it took quite some time before I saw them building the nest. It was already late autumn the nights were getting colder, I wasn’t to optimistic but to my surprise they laid three eggs and two weeks later three young hatched. My achievement quickly turned to disappointment when I realised that after couple of days from hatching they were no longer brooding the young during the night and I ended up losing all the young. The young were fed extremely well, they died with crop full of seeds. Two weeks later they laid another clutch of 4 eggs and eventually hatched another three young. Same thing again, after the day three she wasn’t sitting on the young, but somehow two young were still alive the following morning, very cold but alive, one of the young was dead. Lucky I had a clutch of Red-faced Parrot Finches with young of about the same size and I put the two remaining youngsters in with them.
Red-faced Parrot Finches are excellent parents, couple of weeks later 6 well fed and feathered young came out of that nest, 4 RFPF a 2 Tanimbars. The parents Tanimbars lost another two clutches that season, and finally it warmed up a little and they fledged 4 young Tanimbars for the first time. The young were well fed and feathered meaning they were not bad parents after all. Soon I had 10 very tame young Tanimbars and I decided to sell all including the parents, except for the one young hen. Within couple of days I found unrelated young male and at this stage the birds are still going through their first moult, I am hoping that this very tame young female hatched in my aviary will be better parent then the other one.
About a month
ago (April - 2001), I bought a pair of
Blue-faced Parrot Finches, not long after they made a nest laid five
egg and all five hatched. As you can see my experiment with Parrot Finches
turned out better then I hoped for.
Can’t really say I have learned much from breeding Parrot Finches, they’re pretty much like all other finches, they need lots of green seeding grasses, they appear to be feeding all day long, always busy in search for something to eat. I wouldn’t say they are ideal cage birds, definitely aviary is required if you intend to breed these species. Live food, like Mealworms and Cricket is an excellent addition to their diet but green seeding grasses is a must. They also love soaked seeds, I’ve been watching them alternating from the soaked seed dish to egg and biscuit mix and green seeding grasses before flying off to the nest to feed the young and then the whole process begins again. My birds also go for the slices of cucumber, young sweet corn and green lettuce. Unlike most Waxbills or Grass Finches Parrot Finches love Niger seeds.
keeping three species of Parrot Finches in the same aviary is not advisable,
so far (knock on wood) haven’t obtained any hybrids. I have seen them
young on many occasions, the young don’t seem to care who is feeding them
as long they are being topped up. Most time within couple of weeks from the
young fledging the hen is back on the nest incubating a new clutch of eggs.
As I mentioned above, eggs or the young can be fostered and they will raise
each others young without problems so do not hesitate to foster if you have
to. As for the environment for breeding Parrot finches, nicely planted
aviary would be ideal, do not overcrowd, and, they breed best as a single
pair per aviary, they do not breed well in colony environment. Their young
should be taken out of the breeding aviary as soon as possible.
Red-faced Parrot Finches
Blue-faced Parrot Finches
Tanimbar (Forbes) Parrot Finches
As I walked in to the garage one day I noticed some twigs on the floor, the fist thing that came to my mind was ‘Ah that dog, must have been playing with some twigs’, so I picked them up and dumped them into a garbage bin. Then a day later I noticed more twigs on the floor, this time at the side of the garage just under the carport, I yelled out at the dog pointing at the twigs ‘are you bringing those twigs here again?’. He just looked at the twigs scattered on the floor and walked away. It wasn’t until the following day that I noticed a nest on an old cabinet attached to the side of the garage about 1.8 meters of the ground, I have no idea what was it been used for, I wanted to take it off for quite some time but never got to it. The nest was nicely built lined with mud or muddy leaves and the only bird that I thought might have made it would have been a Blackbird.
I have been
feeding wild birds like: Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy-Mynah birds, Doves etc but my
favoureds were the Black and White Flycatchers (Willie Wagtails) and the
Blackbirds. The Blackbird male often sings from the nearby Banksia tree for
hours. Most of the neighbours are amazed with his song, they are now creating
environment in their gardens for them to breed as well as offering food on
regular basis. Although, the Nightingales are considered to be the best
songsters, but the Blackbirds are definitely the close second.
About couple of years ago I found a Blackbird nest with two young in it in one of the shrubs on my property but I never knew they would built a nest on a flat surface totally exposed where I walk pass 20 times a day. Anyhow, I put my hand in it and felt two eggs, over the next couple of days she laid another two and then I saw her for the first time sitting on the nest, occasionally getting off to feed and stretch her wings but whenever she saw me she’d quickly fly back to resume incubation it was her way of guarding the eggs. Over the next couple of weeks I‘ve been trying to tempt her with Mealworms but only the male quickly picked them up flew away to return in a couple of minutes for more. I have never seen him feeding her so I decided to offer her some, I left couple of Mealworms on the top of the cabinet beside the nest and stepped back, she eventually got of the nest ate the Mealworms then jumped back on to the nest. Over the next few days I eventually got her to take Mealworms out of my hand. I also noticed another female following the male and trying to snatch a Mealworm here and there! That’s when I realised that the female sitting on the nest must have been a stray, initially tried to build a nest inside the garage then for some reason changed her mind and built it on top of the cabinet. She did not tolerate the other female for a second, every time she saw her she’d start a fight chasing her away then fly back to the nest.
One day I saw the male with the other female behind him waiting to be fed, I threw couple of Mealworms on to the floor, she landed near my feet, the female in the nest lashed out of the nest on to my head pecking me couple of times then she turned on to the other female chasing her away, all this in about 30 seconds and then flue back on to the nest resuming incubation, as if nothing had happened. Bird politics never stops amazing me. I guess that was her saying “Don’t feed the other female; I don’t wanna see her here again.”
Fourteen days later two young hatched the other two eggs were infertile, she fed the young extremely well, and they kept gaining weight, I could see her flying in with beak full of earth worms and grubs ever few minutes. One night about midnight I turned the light on and walked outside to check on her, I was surprised to see the empty nest, she wasn’t brooding the now 10 days old young, I put my hand in the nest and yes the young were in it but I had no answer as for why she wasn’t brooding. I looked towards the garden and called out but no, I could not see her. Ah well, I thought what can I do I turned around and just as astonishing there she was sitting on the nest. I never knew that the Blackbirds go out in the middle of the night in search of food! Over the next few days the smaller young mysteriously disappeared then the following day I found the other young dead on the floor.
Within a week she built another nest this time in the grapevine above the pergola, laid two eggs both hatched and both fledged. I kept feeding her with Mealworms, Cherries, Grapes, Egg and Biscuits and her favoured the Apricots. I ringed the young and can see them flaying around never to far from the pergola and the mother hen always nearby. I also discovered the other female built a nest on one of the neighbour’s fence. She had two attempts but so far I can’t see anything in the nest.
There are 15 subspecies of Blackbirds scattered throughout the world. The species that the Europeans are most familiar with is the nominate (Turdus merula.merula) often referred to as the European Blackbird.
1.) - T. m. merula,
the nominate subspecies, native to most of the Europe
Largest Finch Specie in the World
Breeding Grosbeaks is definitely becoming more popular with the more experienced breeders, aggression remaining the most difficult thing to control, it is not uncommon that the female or the male kills or decapitates one another. May be a thought should be given to the aviary design, and what to do with the male after the mating, to save him from sometimes over aggressive female. Luckily there are occasional pairs that are compatible and very tolerant to each other, so the breeding results are at times achieved, but as a Grosbeak breeder it is important to be able to read any signs of aggression.
is trying his luck with the White-winged Grosbeaks this year, we all wish
him well. The photos in this article are photos of his birds! Peter is one
of the very few in the world who are specializing in Crossbills and the
European Citril Finches. Check these out!
Is the C.m.alleni prettier than the C.siemiradzkii
Well, they sure are pretty if the word “pretty” has any significance when it comes to preservation of species, but are they prettier? Let’s say they are just as pretty! C.m.alleni has much richer or stronger colours than all other Carduelis magellanica subspecies. When comparing with the Red Siskin the latter is often more appealing to the eye then the C.m.alleni but they are every bit as interesting. When I first saw the C.m.magellanica and the Carduelis Cucculata “side by side” I wondered if there were any other colors out there perhaps a rainbow of other colors, wouldn’t that be something! C.m.alleni is native to Brazil its size varies depending on the region they come from, but in general they are smaller then the most other subspecies and their flight feathers have very little or no white in their primaries, secondaries and tertials. I only ever saw couple of pairs of C.m.alleni at the Carduelan Finch Show in Europe. They might be more common in other countries like Netherlands, France and Spain and certainly the USA. In Australia it is possible, but more likely they are found as hybrids with C.m.magellanica and it’s easy to tell, they stand out a little with their deeper colours from other Hooded Siskin subspecies.
In the past most finch enthusiasts would not recognise and very little effort was put in to maintain the subspecies in captivity whereas nowadays Finch Clubs as well as many breeders keep an eye on subspecies and put great effort in maintaining whatever little variety is found in captivity. The most common are the C.m.magellanica and the C.m.icterica. The C.m.capitalis is also found quite often. Not common but occasionally found in Europe are the C.m.paula and the C.m.boliviana. The C.m.longirostris a very small Hooded Siskin (same size as the C.simeriratzkii but not as colourful) are also found but very rarely nowadays and only once have I seen the C.olivacea in Europe. So far to the best of my knowledge there is no record of other subspecies and I keep in touch with many Siskin breeders through out the world.
C.olivacea has six white "panels" on their wings which is one of the key features in
identification of this species and apart from this they are identical to the
C.m.capitalis. Certainly in the wild their range would have to be considered and where
the birds were observed, which is according to Ridgely—Tudor in “The
birds of South America” for C.m.olivacea is Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia from 1200 to
about 3000 meters altitude.
out this link for C.olivacea:
It is important to note that in the western subspecies of Hooded Siskins as well as the C.olivacea (which for whatever reason is not considered to be subspecie of C.m.magellanica), only females have white belly the males do not. In the Eastern subspecies the C.m.longirostris and the C.m.alleni the females do not have white belly, in the C.m.icterica sometimes both males and females can show some white, more often in the South where they merge with the C.m.magellanica.
Two subspecies that I haven’t been able to obtain photo off are: C.m.tucumana which I believe is similar to the C.m.urubambensis and the second is the C.m.santacrruces which again I believe is similar to the C.m.alleni. One other is the C.m.boliviana; there are some photos of birds in captivity, but same as for the C.m.santacrruces I can’t find any photos of these birds in the wild and relaying on photos of captive bred birds as reference is not always a good idea.
C.m.alleni is sure pretty but if we could only think in terms of
conservation, the word “pretty” wouldn’t be as significant!
Conservation continues in captivity, I hope we all feel we have some
obligations to preserve biodiversity and prevent species extinction but
unfortunately in captivity hybridizing and creation of mutants is the
greatest threat. Mutations appear to be the latest craze with finch
breeders, but it really got out of hand with Parrot breeders. Their
commercial value can be twice or more then that of a pure wild species. This
is most evident in the Australian Finches, unless you're living in Australia
where mutations in Finches is still rare except in Gouldian Fiches. With
the global worming and human expansion as well as flooding the market with
mutants, people will soon start to wonder what do the pure wild species look like, so this is bound to change in
the years to come, let’s hope it’s
not to late.
Thick-billed Siskins and the Yellow-rumped Siskins reached Europe
Finally a few pairs of Thick-billed
Siskins and the Yellow-rumped Siskins have reached Europe, the few breeders
who were lucky enough to purchase them are now hoping for some successful
breeding results to be able to supply already a page-full of orders by the
How long do Finches live?
By: John Quatro
Carduelan Finches breed best from year two to year four and then the fertility of eggs starts to decrease. I noticed that five and six years old females have about 50% fertility rate. Two and three year olds are in their prime, laying up to 6 eggs per clutch. Normal clutch for most Carduelan species is four eggs, the birds over six years of age average 3 eggs with fertility rate of about 33%, if you’re lucky! They stop producing fertile eggs at about seven years of age. I had uncolored 6 months old Red Siskin female lay 4 fertile eggs and all four hatched, then again I had 8 years olds lay one to three eggs and I do not remember the eggs ever being fertile. As a rule, all of my breeding pairs remain in my aviaries until they die, so I'm able to keep notes on their aging process. The females, for as long as they build a nest and lay at least one egg, can be used as foster mothers, with their proven experience they're usually very good at it.
Eventually they all lose the ability to fly, the age varies but usually it starts from about eight to twelve years, their eyesight also becomes poor, they turn into ground dwellers, hopping around from a food dish to a dish, if they’re healthy their appetite remains good. I noticed that at some point of time at that very old age if they fall on their back, they find it difficult to get back on their feet. During the wormer months they can be left in an aviary, I make sure they have some low branches they can climb onto, to spend the night. During the colder months I put them into a heated cage in the evening, and put them back in the aviary early in the morning. I also noticed that if I gently stretch each wing just for a few seconds downwards 45° (towards the tail), and then again gently upwards 45° once or twice a day, after a day or so they appear to gain the ability to fly for a short distance but only in a straight line. These old birds always turn into a very short tempered old birds, do not tolerate other birds anywhere near them and the disputes, if the other bird is persistent, sometime goes on for a very long time, until either it gets knocked of its perch or the other bird flays away. When the bird loses ability to fly they die within 12 to 18 months. This applies to all Carduelan finches, here I’m talking from my experience with the Siskins, (Red & Hooded), Saffron Finches, Chaffinches, European Greenfinches, Redpolls, European Goldfinches and the Green and Gray Singers.
Birds in the wild never get
to this age! The moment they lose the sense of alertness they’re
immediately spotted and taken by skilled predators like Cats, Snakes the
Butcher birds etc. I do not have any data on any research on how long do the
finches live in the wild but can’t see they would make it much more pass
the five to seven years. I read that some species like the Cardinals can
live up to 20 years and more, (50 in captivity). Breeding and fertility rate of finches in the wild as
they age would be about the same as in the captive birds.
Watching wild parrots and
other birds feeding at the birdfeeder I can often spot the very young and
the very old birds. I can approach and sometimes touch them while they’re
still feeding, which is impossible to do with fully alert two and three year
olds. I often thought about other species, how do the large Raptors age? I remember
reading articles about the Raptors that “cannot fly”, people saying
“they do not seem to be able to fly; they barely lift their feet off the
Now, what is the lifespan of
a small hummingbird? They say the smaller the bird is the shorter the life
span, anywhere from 4 to about 12 years depending on species. Where as with
dogs, smaller species of dogs have longer life span than the larger species
dogs, that's quite the opposite!
In conclusion, it is
important to remember that when birds do not look well, they are not necessarily
sick, they may be old! Therefore pouring medicine down their throat is not
going to help, there shouldn't be that many requests for help with
sick finches, may be that half of those birds are at that age! I think my old breeding pairs deserve all the attention I can give them, for lots of
pleasant memories and all the young they produced over the years! Never give
away your breeding pairs! I still
have the descendents of Siskins I bought 25 years ago.
And check this out; this data some may say is not 100% accurate but it can’t be far from