. Long tailed finch
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- An Australian Finch
- Scientific Name: Poephila
- Common Name/s:
LONG TAILED FINCH, YELLOW BILLED LONG TAILED FINCH, RED BILLED LONG TAILED FINCH,
HECK'S FINCH, HECK'S GRASS FINCH.
- Sub Species:
2....Nominate form (Yellow billed) = Poephila acuticauda acuticauda.
Heck's (or red billed) = Poephila acuticauda hecki
- Origin / Distribution: Northern
Australia (Across top of Western Australia, Northern Territory and a
small part of Queensland)
- Habitat In Wild: Open grasslands,
lightly timbered areas and farmlands.
- Status In Wild: Common in some
parts of its natural range, but their survival is reliant on the
survival of their preferred nesting and feeding habitat and sites.
- Status In (Australian) Captivity:
Yellow billed - Secure, but Heck's numbers are much less and harder
to acquire and should not be bred with the yellow billed form. Pure
strains of each sub-species are hard to find. Breed true to
type and keep breeding lines genetically pure. Hybrids usually
have a "coral" coloured beak.
- Age To Sexual Maturity: about
9 months of age
- Adult plumage: attained at about 3
months, beak colour takes up to 4 months.
- Best breeding years (estimate):
2nd - 6th year
- Lifespan (estimate): About 7 - 9
years. Long lived for a finch.
- Sexing: Monomorphic
- Mutations: Yes
- Availability: Bird dealers
- Temperament: Breeds well and is a
good beginners bird. They are long lived for a finch and look good
in an aviary. May breed year round. May do well as a single pair in
a mixed finch collection. Best results are in a colony in an
aviary. Do not mix with other birds of the Poephila group due to the possibility of them hybridizing. The long tailed finch can interfere with other species of breeding/nesting finches when housed in
a mixed species collection.
- Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: -
Normal colour (Approx) $80 for both forms.
- Description Of Adults: Comes in two forms - The Yellow billed and the Red billed.
- Length: Approx. 150 - 170 mm (or approx 6 - 6.5 inches)
Tail is about 65 mm (2.5 inches) long.
- Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer
photo/s above if available.
- Weight: Approx. 17 - 19 gms (or approx 2/3 ozs)
on "Finches - 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.
Housing Requirements: Click on "Housing birds"
web page for general details on the housing
of Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.
The Long tailed finch is a very adaptable species. Will breed
well in a wide range of sizes of aviaries or as one pair in a large
indoor cage. May
be suitable in a mixed
species collection but do best as a colony in a large planted aviary.
3 breeding pairs in a planted aviary should give good results.
A planted aviary of about 3 metres long
(10 feet) will be ideal for a small colony or mixed species collection.
Best results are usually obtained in a fully roofed aviary.
Cage breeding is often used by breeders that are breeding the long
tailed finch for specific colour mutations.
Diet / Feeding: Click on "Feeding birds"
web page for general details on the
nutrition of Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this
In the wild the Long tailed finch
consume mainly ripe and half ripe seeds of grasses and herbaceous
plants. Insects form part of their food intake, especially during the
breeding season. In the wild the birds will catch flying insects such as
winged flying termites.
In captivity the birds require a good quality finch mix, seeding
grasses and some green leafy vegetables such as endive, silverbeet or
cos lettuce. Live food is
beneficial throughout the year and essential at breeding season. Mealworms
and small crickets are commonly
used. Sprouted or soaked seed if available.
Basic seed mix should include Canary
seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.
The Long tailed Grassfinch drinks by
sucking. Most finches scoop up the water but the Long tailed finch
and a few other finches suck up the water.
A basic overview only.
- Roosting nest: Yes, a
roosting nest is generally smaller than a breeding nest and lacks
the entrance tunnel.
- Nesting months: Will
breed year round if conditions are suitable. Spring to Autumn is
preferred. Winter breeding should be discouraged.
- Nesting receptacles: Use a
variety of types including nesting in natural dry brush such as tea
tree or native shrubs as well as artificial nests such as half open
timber nest boxes.
- Nest: Long tailed
finches are territorial in the breeding season so adequate space
must be available between nest sites to avoid fights and aggression.
Both birds build a dome shaped nest. The nest is made of
grasses and other suitable materials and has an entrance tunnel. Nest is lined with feathers
and soft fine grasses.
- Who incubates the eggs:
Hen / cock / both share.
Nests will generally be built at mid level
to high sites in the aviary. Adequate new nest material must be
available for the birds to rebuild the old nest or build a new nest for
the next clutch.
More details on
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 3. Eggs per nest 5 - 7. Incubation
approx 13 - 14 days. Fledge approx. 21 -
Independent approx. another 3 - 5 weeks. Both parent birds feed the
Most breeding pairs of Long tailed finch will tolerate some
nest inspections but this should only be done when absolutely necessary.
Pair bonding is usually very strong and
it is advisable to pair up young birds prior to them reaching 10 - 12 months
of age. Pairs engage in mutual preening. Some birds will try to breed at an early age but this
should be discouraged till they have fully matured and reached the age of at least
10 - 12
Best breeding results are from pairs
that have been allowed to choose their own partner. If possible, place a
group of young in the same aviary and allow the birds to choose their
preferred partner then move these pairs to their own cage or aviary.
Do not mix the two subspecies as they
readily interbreed. Keep the two types genetically pure. Do
not house Black throated, Long tailed, or Masked finches together as
hybridization may occur.
Best results are usually achieved with about 3 breeding pairs in a colony in a
typical backyard planted
aviary of about 2 - 3 metres long (7
-10 feet). Young should be leg rung so individuals can be
identified and traced for future breeding programs. When selling
young to future breeders, leg rings will remove the chance of
brother/sister young being sold as "new pairs". Purchasers should
be told if the young birds are brother-sister related so other unrelated
birds can be paired up with any brother-sister related birds.
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"
web 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 "Avian Health Issues"
web page option.
- Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep
updating your knowledge and skills.
General References: Refer to references listed on "Book
References" web page.
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