. African Silverbill
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- Scientific Name: Lonchura
- Common Name/s:
- Sub Species in country / area of origin:
Lonchura malabarica malabarica - Indian Silverbill.
- Origin / Distribution: Africa and
parts of Saudi Arabia
- Habitat In Wild: Arid areas
and open grasslands and has adapted to use farmland.
- Status In Wild: ?
- Status In (Australian) Captivity:
Generally secure but numbers can fluctuate wildly.
- Age To Sexual Maturity: ?
- Adult plumage: attained at about 3
- Best breeding years (estimate):
2nd - 5th.
- Lifespan (estimate): approx. 7
- Sexing: Monomorphic
- Mutations: ?
- Availability: Bird dealers.
The Indian Silverbill is no longer available in Australia.
African Silverbill populations in Australia vary widely depending
upon the bird's popularity.
- Temperament: Not a common
bird in aviaries. Usually a prolific
breeder in captivity and is suitable as a colony breeder in
- Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: -
Normal colour (Approx.) $200
- Description Of Adults: Member
of the Mannikin family. Genus Lonchura.
- Length: Approx.110 - 115 mm (or approx. 4.5 inches)
- Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer
photo/s above if available.
- Weight: Approx. 14 gms (or approx. 1/2 oz)
on "Finches - Non Australian" web page
and use in conjunction with details
outlined on this page.
Level Of Knowledge Required:
Beginner / Intermediate
/ Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.
Government Regulations &
By-Laws: Refer to "Government Laws" page.
Click on "Housing birds"
web page for general details on the housing
of Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.
The African Silverbill prefers an aviary with tall grasses
and dense shrubs. Will hybridize with many other species of
Can be bred as a single pair in a large canary style cage but results
may not be as good as in an aviary.
Diet / Feeding:
Click on "Feeding birds"
web page for general details on the
nutrition of Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this
A great bird for those who do not like
feeding live foods. They generally do not eat insects even during
breeding season. However some people have an opposing view and
state that their pairs have their best breeding results if live
foods and seeding grasses are available during the breeding season.
The African Silverbill requires a good quality finch mix, seeding grasses
and some fruits (e.g. apple) and some green leafy vegetables. Sprouted seed if available.
Basic seed mix should include Canary
seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.
If the birds are not eating live foods, the amount of seeding grasses
must be increased significantly during breeding season.
A basic overview only.
- Roosting nest:
Yes / No
- Nesting months: May breed year round if conditions are
suitable but late Spring to early Autumn gives the best results.
- Nesting receptacles: Will
build a nest in a shrub or dry brush. Equally it will build a
nest in a wide variety of artificial nests.
- Nest: Both parents
build a large dome shaped nest from grasses. Nest is lined
with feathers and soft fine grasses such as November or swamp grass.
- Who incubates the eggs:
Hen / cock / both share.
A moderate number of inspections are generally tolerated by the
African Silverbill. Nests
should be left in the aviary throughout the year as the nests may be
used as a roosting nest.
More details on finch nests
and a selection of finch nest photos
can be located on the "nests", "finch nests"
and "finch nest photos"
web pages. Click on "Up" then "nests" then
"finch nests" and "finch nests photos" in
the navigation bars.
Egg Colour White. Clutch/s
per year 2 - 3. Eggs per nest 2 - 4. Incubation
approx. 11 - 12 days. Fledge approx. 21 days.
Independent approx. another 3 - 4 weeks.
The African Silverbill is generally housed one pair per small
aviary. Can be housed in a mixed species collection, as a colony
in a suitably sized aviary or as one pair per cage. Will hybridize with other mannikins.
In an aviary it is generally safe to leave the young in the same
aviary after they become independent. Young birds (when they
become fully independent) must be removed when bred in a cage.
Care must be exercised if the young are left in the same aviary as
the parents. The young colour up very quickly and soon resemble
the parent birds. It is easy to sell off a parent bird instead of
the intended young. equally you do not want one of the young birds
pairing up with one of the parent birds. Leg rings are recommended
for the young birds as well as different colours for each parent bird.
Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be
covered on this web site. It is too complex and diverse in nature to be
attempted here. Refer "Specific References" as listed below and
"General References" listings.
Refer "Avian Health Issues"
page for information and references.
- Worming and parasite control and Quarantine
requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to
require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web
site. Refer above option - "Avian Health Issues"
- Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep
updating your knowledge and skills.
Refer to references listed on "Book
References" web page.
- Australian Aviculture
- A/A Vol 56 No 6 Jun 2002Page 125-129 (Inc photo)
- A/A Vol 27 No 12 Dec 1973 Page
213-215 (Inc photo)
- A/A Vol 26 No 7
Jul 1972 Page 98
- A/A Vol 25 No 12 Dec 1971 Page 185-186.
- A/A Vol 20 No 6 Jun 1966 Page 85, 88 (Inc colour plate).
- A/A Vol 7 No 11 Nov 1953 Page 132-133 (Indian Silverbill).
- Australian Birdkeeper
- ABK Vol 17 Issue 4. Aug-Sept 2004 Page 226-228.
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