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

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. Star finch
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  • An Australian Finch
  • Scientific Name: Neochmia ruficauda
  • Sub Species: 2 or 3, Neochmia ruficauda ruficauda,  Neochmia ruficauda clarescens
  • Origin / Distribution: Top of Australia including Western Australia, Northern Territory and part of Northern Queensland, with the nominate form inhabiting southern Queensland.
  • Habitat In Wild: Open grasslands and eucalypt woodlands. Along creeks and streams in reeds and tall grasses.
  • Status In Wild: Declining in its natural range and becoming rare in many areas. Some of the populations are critically endangered. The nominate sub-species N. r. ruficauda may be close to extinct in the wild.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity: Common
  • Age To Sexual Maturity: 9 - 12 months.  Hens may lay at 9 months but better long term success can usually be achieved if the hens are about 12 months of age when they commence laying.
  • Adult plumage: attained at about  6 - 9 months
  • Lifespan (estimate): approx. 7 - 8 years
  • Best breeding years (estimate): 12 months to 5 years.
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Mutations: Yes, Many.
  • Availability: Pet shops & bird dealers
  • Temperament: Good beginners bird. Popular aviary bird and breeds well in captivity. Not aggressive to other species and does well in a mixed species collection. Care must be taken to ensure they do not hybridize with other species when housed in a mixed species collection.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $50 - $60
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Approx.120 mm (or approx 5 inches)
  2. Colour ("normal" colour): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx. 10 gms (or approx. 1/3 oz)

The Neochmia genus comprises the Crimson finch Neochmia phaeton,  the Red browed finch Neochmia temporalis,  The Star finch Neochmia ruficauda, and the Plum headed finch Neochmia modesta.

CONSERVATION VALUE: Star finches used to be seen in large flocks flying free in the wild.  Today the wild population of some of the sub-species is thought to extinct or restricted to only a few pairs.  This could mean we have a few hundred breeding pairs left in the wild!!  These few remaining breeding pairs are at the mercy of land clearing, bushfires, predators and human interference.
In future years the Star finches we keep in the aviary will probably be bred in increasing numbers to produce an endless combination of colour mutations.  The Gouldian finch is now bred mainly to produce colour mutations.  Few Gouldian finch breeders can honestly say they have pairs of birds that always produce true "normal" coloured birds.  Almost all Gouldians bred in our aviaries have some colour mutation impurities and may be of little value as a breeding stock suitable to release back into the wild.  More value must be placed on the rarest of the Gouldian Finches....The true pure "normal" bird.
The Star finches we have in our aviaries are most likely a mix of all three sub-species.  True sub-species would be rare in our aviaries.  With the introduction of more Star colour mutations, a true value must be placed on the pure normal colours.
A closed metal leg ring may be necessary on each bird bred to keep track of the genetics of each bird.  The genetic background of each bird sold should be available to the purchaser.

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.

Not aggressive to other species and does well as a single pair in a mixed species collection. Does well as a colony.

Star finches require more privacy than most finches and must be left alone and not subject to inspections during nest building or breeding.

Star finches do well in a planted aviary of about 3 metres long (10 feet).  900mm (3 feet) wide is sufficient.

Star finches can be bred in a large cage/cabinet of about 1metre long (3.5 feet) but the breeding results are usually less than achieved in an aviary.

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.

The Star finch requires a good quality finch mix, seeding grasses, some fruits (e.g. apple) and some green leafy vegetables such as endive or silverbeet. Live food is not essential during the non-breeding season but is beneficial during breeding season. Mealworms and small crickets can be offered. Sprouted or soaked seed if available.

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

Breeding pairs that are not fed insects will benefit from high protein food supplements during breeding season.

Nesting: A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest: No
  • Nesting months: Stars will often breed throughout the year however Spring to Autumn gives the best results.
  • Nesting receptacles: Will make their nest in shrubs, dry brush such as tea tree. May use artificial nests such as half open nest boxes.
  • Nest: Dome shaped nest with a side entrance and made of grasses. Nest is lined with feathers and soft fine grasses such as November grass or Swamp grass.  Nest is usually built at mid height to upper part of the aviary.
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen during the night, both share during the day.

Star finches do not tolerate nest inspections.  Nests are generally built at mid to high parts of the aviary and difficult to inspect safely.  The young can be leg rung as soon as they leave the nest.

Parent birds may reuse the nest for subsequent clutches.  Adequate new nest material must be available for the birds to refurbish the old nest or build a new nest for the next clutch.  Removal of dirty nests once the young have left will make the parents build a new clean 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  2 - 3.  Eggs per nest  4 - 6.  Incubation approx 14 days.  Fledge approx. 18 - 21 days.  Independent approx. another 21 - 28 days. The young may return to the nest for about one week after fledging.

Pair bonding is strong but with care they can be re-paired if required.

Care must be taken to ensure they do not hybridize with other species when housed in a mixed species collection

Star finches are generally intolerant of nest inspections. In an aviary it is generally safe to leave the young in the same aviary as the parent birds after they become independent.

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 59 No 6 Jun 2005 Page 133-137 (Inc photo).
  • A/A Vol 58 No. 11 Nov 2004 Page 254-257.
  • A/A Vol 57 No 9 Sept 2003 Page 205.
  • A/A Vol 57 No. 6 June 2003 Page 132-133.
  • A/A Vol 56 No. 7 July 2002 Page 143-145
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 9 Sept 1996 Page 206-207 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 46 No. 6 Jun 1992 Page 136-140 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 42 No. 5 May 1988 Page 111-113
  • A/A Vol 40 No. 6 Jun 1986 Page 144-147 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 39 No. 2 Feb 1985 Page 40-41
  • A/A Vol 35 No. 3 Mar 1981 Page 61-65 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 33 No. 9 Sept 1979 Page 153
  • A/A Vol 29 No. 11 Nov 1975 Page 170-171
  • A/A Vol 24 No. 12 Jan 1970 Page 12-13.
  • A/A Vol 15 No. 1 Jan 1961 Page 10-12.
  • A/A Vol 13 No 8 Aug 1959 Page 109-111, 122-124 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol 12 No 8 Aug 1958 Page 97-99, 110 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol 11 No 11 Nov 1957 Page 160-162.
  • A/A Vol 10 No 8 Aug 1956 Page 94-95.
  • A/A Vol  9 No 6 Jun 1955 Page 65-66.
  • A/A Vol  8 No 8 Aug 1954 Page 100.
  • A/A Vol  8 No 4 Apr 1954 Page 48, 52.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 1 Jan 1952 Page 10.
  • A/A Vol  4 No 6 Jun 1950 Page 74.
  • A/A Vol  4 No 5 May 1950 Page 58.
  • A/A Vol  3 No 9 Sept 1949 Page 98 (Sexing Aust. finches).
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 16 Issue 12 Dec-Jan 2004 Page 675-677.
  • ABK Vol  4 Issue 8. Apr-May 1991 Page 381-385
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 1990 Page 473-477
  • ABK Vol  2 Issue 8. Apr-May 1989 Page 293-294

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