The Pin-tailed Parrot Finch

Pin-tailed Parrot Finch8,13,23,31,34,35,40,41
Erythrura prasina and E.p. coelica
Parrot finch
Hardiness:Initially delicate
Reproduction:Prolific but challenging
Singing ability:Poor
Compatibility:Passive, mixes well with other passive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:4¾"-6" (12-15 cm)
Weight:Around 17-19 grams
Approx. cost:$ (US) per pair


Other common names

Pin-tailed Nonpareil, Long-tailed Munia, Nonpareil Parrotfinch, Yellow-bellied Parotfinch (yellow variant), Red-bellied Munia.

Origin

Asia

Area of distribution

Thailand, southern Myanmar, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, western Laos. E.p. coelica primarily northern Borneo.

Distribution


Disposition

Curious, active; nervous in smaller enclosures; may seem secretive or shy; scare easily

Physical descriptions

E. prasina
Cock: Grassy green back and wings; bright blue mask covering forehead, face, and cheeks then extending down the throat; black lores; black bill; flanks and undertail coverts orange-yellow with red belly; rump, upper tail coverts, and central tail feathers bright red. Long central tail feathers. Flesh colored legs.
Hen: Back and wings grassy green; underside buff and lacks any red coloring; pale red rump & tail; blue wash from lores to cheeks; black bill, flesh colored legs. Shorter tail.

E.p. coelica
Cock: Blue on front extends further down the breast.
Hen: Blue wash on face extends down throat.

Juveniles are similar to a hen, but have dull greenish underparts, dull orange-red tail and an olive rump; base of mandible yellow.

Yellow variant lacks the red on the belly; additionally, the rump and tail are straw-yellow. Autosomal recessive mutation which occurs naturally in 5-8% of the wild populations.

Sexing

Females are somewhat muted in color compared to the males and lack much of the blue on the face; females also have shorter tails.

Song

A series of soft (nearly inaudible) crackling sounds and clinking/chirping notes

Pictures

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Pintailed Parrotfinch cock
Pin-tailed parrotfinch cock.


Favorite foods

Paddy rice, oats, canary grass seed, rape, linseed, niger, hemp, millet spray, silver millet, panicum millet, groats, wheat, sprouted seed, greens (chickweed, lettuce, spinach), fruit (apple, orange, cherry), cucumber, egg food, will occasionally accept livefood (cooked mealworms, ant pupae)

Natural habitat

Inhabits forests, forest edges, underbrush, and bamboo thickets; feeds in open areas especially rice fields.

Habits

Locally nomadic; may move north in winter. Outside of the breeding season, pin-tailed parrot finches live in groups which vary in size from a few pairs to large flocks. May even swarm rice fields to devour rice and is therefore considered a local pest. Crawling around rough branches helps naturally keep their nails trimmed. Roosts on perches, not in nests. Tends to breed near forest edge or in bamboo thickets. At the start of pair bonding, both sexes may bill-fence; later the cock may approach the hen with tail directed toward her. Two courtship rituals are described. In one, the cock hops toward the female (or sometimes 'crab walks' sideways), bobbing up and down then raises his tail and flicks it side to side while moving his head side to side like a pendulum. He may or may not be holding nesting material in his bill during this display. A responsive hen may perform similar movements, at which point the male drops any symbol he may be carrying and performs bowing movements synchronously with the hen. In the second ritual, the male holds a symbol in his bill and bobs up and down without his feet leaving the perch or ground. When a hen approaches, he angles his tail toward her, drops his symbol, arches his neck over her head, mandibulates and sings. Copulation is thought to usually occur within the nest. Domed nests with a large side entrance are built in bushes and trees, using small roots, grasses, dry leaves and fibers, and fine grasses. Fledglings beg by facing the parent and fluttering the wings, similar to a young canary.

Special considerations

This species is sensitive to the cold. Requires careful acclimatization, being kept at 77°F for several weeks, then housed around 68°F, and provided supplemental heat in cooler weather. Prone to obesity in smaller enclosures. This species molts twice per year and sometimes in captivity may replace red feathers with yellow ones. Birds should be provided reeds and other rough branches for climbing to help wear down their nails. Has hybridized with both red-headed and blue-faced parrot-finches, so be careful when housing these species together. Tends to be passive overall, but may be dominant at the feeding station(s). Avoid housing with larger weavers and in enclosures with glass walls or screens as the birds are likely to crash into them when scared and can become injured.

Breeding season

Rainy season (in the wild): February and November in Java.


Breeding tips

Keeping 3-5 pairs in a single, large, well-planted aviary is recommended. Temperature should be maintained around 77°F while breeding. Both cock and hen should be on the same schedule for molting in order to breed successfully. Although some pairs may accept a nest box or receptacle, most generally prefer to build their own nests over using nest boxes, and will use fibers, bast, grass leaves, straw, sisal, coconut fiber, and moss in thick bushes or tufts of thick, tall grass. May prefer to build nests up high near the roof of the aviary. Parents cease brooding young in the nest during the day at 8 days of age and altogether (day and night) at 10 days of age, which occurs before the chicks are fully feathered. Nest sites should therefore be kept warm and may require nearby supplemental heat to prevent chicks from chilling. Fledglings seem to frighten easily (fluttering wings, calling out) for about the first week after leaving the nest, then gradually overcome this behavior. Fledglings can be left with the parents until the next clutch hatches or until the juvenile cocks begin to obtain red plumage.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:2-5 eggs
Incubation:The hen primarily incubates at night; both cock and hen take turns incubating during the day
Hatch date:After 13-14 days of incubation; chicks hatch naked & flesh colored
Feeding:Both parents feed the young, preferring sprouted seed, fresh greens, some insects
Fledge date:At 21-24 days of age
Wean date:About 2 weeks after fledging
First molt:By 3 months of age
Sexual maturity:Although Parrot Finches may become sexually mature at 4-5 months of age, many breeders recommend waiting until the birds are at least 8-10 months of age before breeding them


Related Article(s)

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Pin-tailed Parrotfinches

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