Old World Aviaries: About finchesó

Neochmia ruficauda
Star finch

Fenton Mereness
E&F Birds

The star finch, Neochmia ruficauda, is a colorful Australian finch that is readily available and easily adaptable to domestic aviaries. The red-faced variety is the norm. A yellow-faced mutation is occasionally found, and there is a fawn variety established in Australian aviaries. I do not know if the fawn has been established in the United States.

The bird is easily sexed when in breeding plumage. The male has a bright red beak and face while the hen is less brilliant and the red does not extend as far back on the face. The body of the mature bird is dark olive, yellow-olive, and olive-spotted-white with the hen a bit duller. The young star is a plain but pretty reddish brown.

We especially enjoy the star because it is a relatively calm bird and a reliable breeder once it finds a mate it likes. I gave five pairs nests about 3 weeks ago, and three pairs have already produced eggs. I will give the other pairs a couple more weeks. Then if they have not bonded, I will send them back to a singles bar to choose their own partners.

Emily and I normally pair breed our birds because we are trying to develop some genetically diverse lines for posterity. However, the star is such a pleasure to watch that I plan on saving a couple of young from each of this year's pairs (ensuring no male and female from the same pair) and will flight breed them next year. In addition to the fun we will have watching them play, we should learn a bit more about their habits.

The cage-breeding star will use either a small canary nest or a covered finch nest. Although, occasionally we have encountered a hen that prefers the cage bottom, which is another reason I want to observe them in a flight environment.

They eat a general finch-seed diet and enjoy greens. They would prefer white ants or fruit-culture flies but will eat our eggfood mixture as their protein source.

AS is the case with most Australian finches, the star requires a relatively warm environment. They are native to northern Australia in about the same area the Gouldian finch is found. They are hardier than the Gouldian and will adapt quite well to most household temperatures.


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