The Cut-throat Finch

Cut-throat Finch 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 23
Amadina fasciata, 3 subspecies
Mannikin
Hardiness:Hardy
Reproduction:Fairly prolific, but sometimes problematic
Singing ability:Poor
Compatibility:Aggressive, mixes well with other aggressive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:5" (12.7 cm)
Approx. cost:$30-40 (US) per bird


Other common names

Cut-throat, Cut-throat Weaver, Cutthroat Finch, Ribbon Finch

Origin

Africa

Area of distribution

From Senegal and Gambia across to Sudan, extending southward to Mozambique.

Distribution


Disposition

Undemanding, animated, calm. May become aggressive when breeding.

Physical descriptions

Plumage is in shades of pale, sandy brown with black flecks all-over. Black-brown tail, creamy white chin and cheeks, chestnut brown patch on belly. Beak and legs are a pale pink (fleshy) color. The cock sports a bright red band across the throat. Male juveniles look like slightly dulled versions of their fathers; even recently fledged males will have a dull red band across the throat. Female juveniles look like dulled versions of their mother. Mutations include white/albino and yellow-throated (where the red band across the cock's throat is replaced with yellow).

Sexing Cutthroats

Sexing

Males sport the red band across the throat which females do not have. Juvenile males also sport this red throat band, whereas juvenile females do not.

Song

The cock sings a low-pitched, bubbling warble.

Cock singing (.mp3, .17 MB)


Pictures

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Photo by Charlie Wijaya
Pair of Cut-throats (hen on left, cock on right).

Cut-throat Finches
Pair of Cut-throats (Male in foreground).

Male Cut-throat
Male Cut-throat.

Photo by Deborah
Male Cut-throat.

Photo by Charlie Wijaya
Cut-throat family.

Favorite foods

Live food (mealworms, termites, ant pupae), millet, green food, egg food, some fruit (oranges, pears, apples).

Natural habitat

Arid country, dry acacia savanna, thornbush scrub, cultivated areas, villages, mopane woodland, and semi-desert or desert country with available surface water and some trees or bushes.

Habits

Cut-throats form strong pair bonds and are a social species. Members of a pair may engage in allopreening. Outside of the breeding season, these birds live in large flocks. Birds may engage in peering behavior at a singing male. They enjoy "dust bathing" and may benefit from access to a shallow dish of dry (chemical-free) earth.

Special considerations

Due to their aggressive and interfering nature while breeding, Cut-throats should not be housed with smaller birds such as waxbills while breeding. Cut-throats have been known to investigate the nests of less-bold species and throw out their eggs and young in order to commandeer the nest, though they tend to remain peaceful towards other cut-throats even while breeding (if a spacious enough enclosure is provided). In a nonbreeding aviary, Cut-throats may be peaceful inhabitants, but if they show signs of aggression, they may need to be separated from the more passive species. Cut-throats are prone to induced melanism if they are not housed adequately. To avoid this plumage problem, make sure to provide your birds with adequate lighting and a quality diet. If housed in small enclosures, Cut-throats have a tendency to become lethargic and obese; keeping Cut-throat finches in a spacious, well-planted aviary is advised. Hens of this species also tend to suffer from egg binding; therefore, providing a constant source of calcium and a balanced diet is important, and breeding should be limited to warmer weather.

Breeding season

Birds may breed year-round in warm climates, or during the warmer (summer) months in cool climates. In the wild, Cut-throats breed during the end of the rainy season and in the dry season:
  • Sudan: January, February, August, September
  • Ethiopia: May, November, December
  • Kenya: July
  • Kenyan Highlands: May to August
  • Malawi: March to May
  • West Africa: September and November


Breeding tips

Pairs may breed successfully in either a cage or an aviary and can even be bred in colony fashion. A male will court a female by singing to her while displaying with fluffed underparts and erect head feathers, turning his head from side-to-side and bobbing his body up-and-down. An interested hen will solicit copulation by quivering her tail. They may accept a covered nest box and use coarse nesting materials (grass stems, bast, millet stems, shredded paper, coconut fiber) and feathers for construction of the nest. Wild birds build their nests in bushes, trees, or tree hollows using grass stalks and feathers for lining; they may also accept abandoned weavers' nests or commandeer nests of other species. Provide hens with a constant source of calcium and a balanced diet to help prevent egg binding, and only attempt to breed mature birds during warmer weather. Both sexes will take turns incubating the eggs, and both birds will roost in the nest at night. Live food should be provided to breeding birds for chick rearing purposes. Some pairs are prone to abandoning their eggs or nestlings in captivity. In an effort to avoid this problem, provide a wide variety of nesting options, materials, and rearing foods (including egg food, green food, and soaked seed) to breeding pairs and avoid nest checks. Limit breeding pairs to two clutches per year.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:3-6 eggs
Hatch date:After 12-13 days of incubation
Fledge date:At 21-23 days of age
Wean date:Around 6 weeks of age
Sexual maturity:Because hens are prone to egg-binding, Cut-throats should not be bred until they are at least 1 year of age.


Related Article(s)

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Cut-throat Finches

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