Red Crested Cardinal
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. Red crested cardinal
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  • Scientific Name:  Paroaria coronata
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  None
  • Origin / Distribution:  South eastern portion of South America.
  • Habitat In Wild:  They have adapted well to farmlands and urban areas.
  • Status In Wild:  Secure.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Very few breeding pairs left in Australia.  Numbers seem to be declining.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity: ?
  • Adult plumage: attained at about 6 months.   
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  2 years onwards and may breed till 10 years of age. 
  • Lifespan (estimate):  Long lived - 15 years or more.
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic .. Surgical or DNA sexing is usually necessary.
  • Mutations:  None known
  • Availability:  Extremely rare. Small gene pool. Specialist breeders only.
  • Temperament:  Active, non aggressive if one pair per large planted aviary.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: -Normal colour (Approx.) $2500 - $3000
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Approx. 175 - 190 mm (or about 7 - 8 inches)
  2. Colour ("normal" colour): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx. 30-35 gms (or about  1.5 ozs)

Note from Frank:  Probable the most attractive bird I have kept and they used to have great character and personality.

Aviary Notes:

Read notes 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" web page.

Housing Requirements:  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.

Should only be housed in a well planted aviary.

The birds benefit from having a well planted aviary as it provides a degree of privacy and security for the birds.  Aviary size should be about 3 metres (about 10 feet) long and at least 900 - 1000mm wide (about 3 - 3.5 feet).  A "typical" planted softbill aviary of up to 1500mm (about 5 feet) wide could be beneficial.

To maximize breeding results, the Cardinals should not not be housed with any other birds.

May be kept with other finches in a very large planted aviary but with their rarity in Australian aviaries it would be best to give each pair an aviary of their own.

Cardinal pairs are not separated during the non-breeding season.

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 finch.

Require a good quality finch seed mix, seeding grasses, live foods and some fruits (e.g. apple) and some vegetables.  Sprouted or soaked seed if available.

Basic seed mix should include Canary seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.

The young grow very fast and require a variety of insects for good breeding results.  Mealworms, crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, cockroaches/woodroaches, slaters, silk worms, fly larvae and other suitable insects should be offered to the birds.
The mealworm larvae, pupa and beetle stages can be offered.
Some breeders capture moths and release the moths into the aviary.  The adult birds may "hawk" or catch some of the moths while the moth is flying around the aviary.  The other moths will be hunted down at a later time.
As with most larger softbills, the insects are killed and fed whole to the young.

These birds are large softbills and may require 2 kilograms of insects to raise each clutch of young.

Quality commercial softbill food mixes can be a supplement to the livefoods.

In the past, provided the adults had access to sufficient insects, they were generally very good parents and had a high fledging rate.  This has changes in recent years with many pairs producing poor results each year.  This may be a result of the small gene pool remaining in Australia.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest:  No
  • Nesting months: Spring to Autumn
  • Nesting receptacles: Will build a cup shaped nest in a shrub or dry brush. Equally it will build a nest in a variety of open cupped artificial nests.
  • Nest:  They build a cup shaped nest out of grasses, coconut fibre, short pieces of teased natural hessian and other materials.  Nest may be lined with feathers, soft materials and soft fine grasses.  Coconut fibre is a favourite for many birds.  The nest is not large compared to its body size.
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen / cock / both share.

Some Cardinals reuse the nest for subsequent clutches but others will build a new nest.  Adequate new nest material must be available for the birds to refurbish 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 Greyish with spots.  Clutch/s per year 2 - 3.  Eggs per nest 2 - 4.  Incubation approx. 14 days.  Fledge approx. 14 - 18 days.  Independent approx. another 3 - 5 weeks.

First official breeding in South Australia was in 1931 by H. Mansfield.
First official breeding of the Green Cardinal in South Australia was in 1935 by S. Harvey.

Both parents feed the young.

As with many birds, pairing up young birds should maximize the breeding results.

Results in recent years have not been very productive.  Breeding pairs may be more productive if they are housed well away from any other pairs of Cardinals.  Although it is easy to look into the nest, nest inspections are generally not tolerated and the hen will leave the nest at the slightest hint of the owner approaching.

Nest inspection should be kept to a minimum and done with great care.  As with other expensive/rare birds, the instillation of a small modern colour camera may be of great benefit and make observation safer and easier.  Most modern mini cameras are relatively inexpensive and most have infrared capability.  Most can be attached to a recording device such as a computer or video recorder.

The installation of a mini colour observation video camera should only be done during the non-breeding season.  This would allow the nest to be monitored without disturbing the parent birds while they are nesting.

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 option - "Avian Health Issues" web page.
  • 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 47 No. 12 Dec 1993 Page 284-290 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 31 No. 9 Sept 1977 Page 130-133 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 16 No 1 Jan 1962 Page 2-3, 12-15 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol  3 No 8 Aug 1949 Page 86 (First SA breeding).
  • A/A Vol  2 No 10 Oct 1948 Page 77-78.
  • The Bulletin No 24, Oct 1944 Page 6 - 7 (Loss of plumage colour).
  • The Bulletin No 23, Sept 1944 Page 2 - 3 (Loss of colour in plumage).
  • The Bulletin No 7, Apr 1943 Page 4 (Virginian Cardinal).
  • The Bulletin No 5, Feb 1943 Page 3 (Green Cardinal).
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 4 Issue 7. Feb-Mar 1991 Page 305-308

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