The Red Avadavat (Strawberry Finch)
Other common namesRed Avadavat, Avadavat, Red Munia, Tiger Finch, Red Waxbill, Bombay Avadavat, Amaduvade, Scarlet Amandava, Indian Strawberry
- A.a. punicea: Strawberry Waxbill, Strawberry Finch, Chinese Avadavat, Cochin Avadavat
- A.a. flavidiventris: Golden-bellied Strawberry Finch, Yellow-bellied Strawberry Finch, Yellow-bellied Tiger Finch
Area of distribution
- A. amandava: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh
- A.a. punicea: SE Thialand, SE Kampuchea, SE China, Vietnam, Java, Bali
- A.a. flavidiventris: SW China, Myanmar (Burma), Lesser Sunda Islands
DispositionSomewhat aggressive to birds of the same species and color, especially defensive of the nest. Otherwise lively and peaceful.
Physical descriptionsWhen in color (which occurs seasonally), the male appears as follows: almost the entire bird becomes scarlet, lower belly and vent is black, tail is black (the underside of the tail feathers are edged in white), flanks, wings and tail coverts have white spots, the beak is red, the lores/eye stripes are black with a white stripe just below each eye, and the feet are pink. Race A.a. flavidiventris is more reddish-orange on his underside when in breeding plumage, with a pale orange belly, and lacking black on the lower belly. A.a. punicea is slightly brighter, has smaller white spots, and has a reduced or absent black lore. First-year males may retain patches of brown juvenile plumage when in breeding color.
When out of color ("eclipse plumage"), the cock appears similar to the hen: reddish brown with a few white spots, the throat and mid-belly being a creamy off-yellow, the sides of the body being light brown-gray, pink legs, red beak, black eye stripe. Unlike hens, cocks out of breeding plumage retain spots on the uppertail coverts, the white-edging on the underside of the tail feathers, and the spots on his greater coverts are larger than the hen's. As the hen enters breeding condition, her tail feathers may become more black and her chest may develop a tinge of yellow-orange.
Juveniles are dull grey-brown above and buffish white below; they have two pale wing bars due to buff-colored feather tips on their median and greater wing coverts; the beak is at first black but turns pink as they age. Juveniles are similar in appearance to hens but lack any red on the rump or uppertail coverts and do not have white spotting.
SexingThe cocks enter a more colorful scarlet nuptial plumage (usually from April until November) which the hens do not sport. When both sexes are out of breeding plumage, the cock can be distinguished by the white spots on his uppertail coverts (hens' uppertail coverts remain unspotted or only have a few small indistinct white spots). Both sexes sing, though the hen doesn't trill as loudly.
Photo by Savisingh
SongRed Avadavats have a beautiful flute-like song: Song clip (.mp3, .18 MB)
PicturesIf you keep this species and have a photo of your birds to share, please submit your photo for possible inclusion on this site! Credit will be given to you.
Red Avadavat cock just starting to develop some breeding plumage. Notice how he has well
defined white spots on his red uppertail coverts, even when not in full breeding plumage.
Photo by Madhukar Bangalore.
Red Avadavat cock. Photo by Santanu Sen.
Red Avadavat cock. Photo by Akshay Charegaonkar.
Strawberry (A.a. punicea) cock. Brighter bird, mostly lacks a dark lore.
Note the white edging on the underside of the tail; cocks retain this feature even when in eclipse plumage.
Strawberry (A.a. punicea) cock. Brighter bird, mostly lacks a dark lore.
Red Avadavat cock.
Red Avadavat cock.
Red Avadavat cock & juveniles. These juveniles are starting to lose the black color in their beaks but still lack any spots or red feathers.
Red Avadavat cock & juveniles.
Favorite foodsInsects - fruit flies, ant pupae, small, freshly molted meal worms, termites, and sprouted seeds.
Natural habitatOpen brush, sugar cane fields, open woodland and forest clearings, and tall grassy areas alongside bodies of water (marshes with reed beds), edges of cultivation, and occasionally gardens.
HabitsIn the wild, Red Avadavats live in large flocks outside of the breeding season, and pair off to breed. They are agile flyers and will often engage in clumping and allopreening between members of a pair. Females will clump and allopreen males in nonbreeding plumage if a red male is not present, but may act aggressive towards other females and brown males if a red male is present. Males in red plumage do not usually clump together. These birds love to climb tall grasses and shrubs which naturally keeps their nails trim in the wild.
Roosting nests are not used. Free-standing breeding nests are large and domed with a side entrance, built low to the ground in bases of thick bushes, grass clumps, or reeds. Wild Red Avadavats are very opportunistic when it comes to nesting, however, and may make use of such sites as cervices in buildings and rock walls. Red Avadavats love to bathe frequently and should be given ample opportunities in captivity.
Special considerationsRed Avadavats may require frequent nail clipping (in the wild, their nails are worn down as they perch on the rough stems of large grasses); providing them with natural, sufficiently textured and vertical perching opportunities is recommended. Red Avadavats may require supplemented heat during the cooler months and should not be exposed to prolonged temperatures below 54°F (12°C). Captive birds are prone to induced melanism--likely related to dietary and vitamin D deficiency--and apparently require exposure to warmth, sunshine, a proper diet, and adequate moisture to maintain their bright red plumage in later molts. Malnourished birds may also develop "washed-out" colors (red pigment may become orange), an untidy appearance, and have a pale lackluster bill. Hens have a tendency to become egg bound (particularly immature hens), especially if breeding in cold weather or with an inadequate diet, so provide your pairs with adequate heat and a source of calcium. Due to their ground-feeding and insect-eating habits, these birds may suffer from intestinal parasites and may benefit from a regular deworming program. "Skewbald" wing feathers (white primary flight feathers) may occur in fledglings and are not a true mutation but thought to be the result of malnutrition. Affected young will molt into normal adult colors.
If housing in a colony setting, ensure at least 3 pairs per enclosure and avoid keeping uneven numbers of males and females. Avoid housing red avadavats with other species which have red plumage such as the firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala). Also do not house them with Goldbreasts (Amandava subflava) in order to prevent crossbreeding. Hybrids have additionally been reported with the Madagascar Munia (Lemuresthes nana) and possibly the white-throated silverbill. If housed together in a breeding enclosure, parent red avadavats may feed goldbreast chicks if any are present. Red avadavats may live 8-17 years in captivity.
Breeding seasonIn the wild (in parts of Asia), Red Avadavats breed during the second half of the monsoon season and during the following dry season.
- Assam: June-August
- Northern India: July-October
- Southern India: October-March
- Myanmar (Burma): August-January
- Flores: April-June
In Australia, captive red avadavats breed in March through October.
Breeding tipsProviding live food will stimulate breeding; the full breeding diet should be introduced about a month before breeding will start. Pair birds together within 2 weeks of the first signs of the cock changing into breeding plumage; cock birds can breed even when they are not in full nuptial plumage.
Cage breeding is possible, but better results may be obtained using a well-planted outdoor aviary or at least a large indoor flight with full spectrum lighting and a few plants. If colony breeding, use 3 or more pairs and ensure an equal number of cocks and hens. Better results are obtained, however, if only one pair is be housed per enclosure and ideally not in a mixed collection as the male may become distracted by defending the nest. Second-year birds tend to be the most successful at breeding.
The courtship display is performed by both sexes and involves fluffing the body plumage, carrying a piece of grass or a feather in the bill, a slow bow, singing, and an additional bow. Males may initiate copulation by pecking at the hen's nape, or the hen may solicit copulation by quivering her tail.
Pairs prefer to either nest in a large hooded oval bamboo nest, a half-open nest box, or to make their own nest in some shrubbery, often within three to six feet (1-2 m) of the ground. Long grasses (both stiff and soft) as well as coconut fiber are the preferred nest building materials, and both sexes contribute to nest construction. They may use light colored feathers to line the inside of the nest, and have reportedly taken pieces of burnt and charred wood into the nest as well. The entrance tunnel to the nest typically has long dried grasses hanging from it. The breeding enclosure should be kept quiet as pairs are nervous and easily disturbed.
Chicks are born dark skinned with brownish down and bluish-white tubercles at the gape; both parents feed the young. Begging becomes audible a few days after hatching. Parents cease brooding the young at night around 10 days of age, so ensure the enclosure stays adequately warm. Red avadavats are fairly tolerant of nest inspections, but if a disturbance causes premature fledging, do not attempt to replace the young in the nest. Instead, bring the young indoors at night (releasing them back into the aviary in the morning) or ensure that the enclosure will be warm enough at night so the chicks do not become chilled. Once it is time for nestlings to fledge, the parents may withhold food and call from outside of the nest to encourage young to emerge. Once fledged, the cock continues to tend to the young while the hen starts her next brood.
The spent nest may be reused by the birds, but can alternatively be removed to allow the pair to build a fresh nest for the next brood. Juveniles can be left in the breeding enclosure but should be removed once young males develop red breeding plumage. Sexes should be housed separately when not breeding & fed an austerity diet where live food is withheld and soft food, greens, and sprouted seed are restricted.
Note that if one parent bird is lost while young are still dependent, the remaining parent will likely continue his or her parental duties. The widowed parent is unlikely to pair with a new partner mid-season, however.
|Clutch size:||4-7 eggs (4 most common)|
|Incubation:||Done by both parents once the 5th egg is laid.|
|Hatch date:||After 12-14 days of incubation|
|Fledge date:||At 21 days of age|
|Wean date:||About 40- days of age|
Related Article(s)If you own this species and would like to write an article about your experiences with them for this page, please submit your article for possible inclusion on this site. Credit will be given to you!
Red Avadavats (Strawberry Finches)
- The Strawberry Finch - Photos, song audio clips, and experiences from a keeper of strawberry finches.
- Strawberry Finches - A Singing Wings Aviary species profile.
- Red Avadavat - Excellent photos of males, females, and juveniles (use the "Next" button to advance through images).
- Red Avadavat (Red Munia) - More photos.