Long tailed Finch
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. Long tailed finch
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  • An Australian Finch
  • Scientific Name: Poephila acuticauda
  • 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 / Dimorphic
  • 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.
  1. Length: Approx. 150 - 170 mm (or approx 6 - 6.5 inches) Tail is about 65 mm (2.5 inches) long.
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx. 17 - 19 gms (or approx 2/3 ozs)
Aviary Notes:

Read notes 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 finch.

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.

Nesting: 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 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.

Breeding: Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year 3.  Eggs per nest 5 - 7.  Incubation approx 13 - 14 days.  Fledge approx. 21 - 24  days.  Independent approx. another 3 - 5 weeks.  Both parent birds feed the young.

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 months. 

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.

Health Issues: 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.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture

  • A/A Vol 60 No. 5 May 2006 Page 93-95.

  • A/A Vol 57 No. 7 July 2003 Page 152-154, 155.

  • A/A Vol 55 No. 9 Sept 2001 Page 198-199
  • A/A Vol 51 No. 7 July 1997 Page 145-147
  • A/A Vol 51 No. 7 July 1997 Page 147-148
  • A/A Vol 51 No. 3 Mar 1997 Page 49-50 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 49 No. 7 July 1995 Page 164-167
  • A/A Vol 47 No. 8 Aug 1993 Page 181-185
  • A/A Vol 47 No. 7 July 1993 Page 153-154
  • A/A Vol 33 No. 3 Mar 1979 Page 43-48 ( Inc photos)
  • A/A Vol 32 No. 3 Mar 1978 Page 38
  • A/A Vol 30 No. 10 Oct 1976 Page 151-152 (Heck's)
  • A/A Vol 26 No. 4 Apr 1972 Page 49-50
  • A/A Vol 19 No 7 Jul 1965 Page 103-104.
  • A/A Vol 13 No 8 Aug 1959 Page 109-111 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol 12 No 8 Aug 1958 Page 97-99, 110 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol 12 No 2 Feb 1958 Page 22-24.
  • A/A Vol 11 No 11 Nov 1957 Page 157-158.
  • A/A Vol   9 No 10 Oct 1955 Page 118.
  • A/A Vol   4 No 7 Jul 1950 Page 88.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 12 Issue 9. Jun-July 1999 Page 426-429
  • ABK Vol  6 Issue 9. Jun-July 1993 Page 442-444
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 1990 Page 473-477
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 1989 Page 394-395

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