The Red-throated Parrot Finch

Red-throated Parrot Finch11,13,23,31,35,37,40,41
Erythrura psittacea or Amblynura psittacea
Parrot finch
Hardiness:Somewhat hardy; long-lived
Reproduction:Fairly prolific
Singing ability:Fair
Compatibility:Passive, mixes well with other passive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:4¾" (12 cm)
Weight:Around 19 grams
Approx. cost:$150-250 (US) per pair


Other common names

Red-faced Parrot-finch, Red throated Parrotfinch, Red-throated Parrotfinch, Red-throated Parrot-Finch, Red-headed Parrot Finch*, Red-headed Parrotfinch*
*Note: "Red-headed parrot finch" now more commonly refers to Erythrura cyaneovirens, previously known as the royal parrotfinch.

Origin

New Caledonia, an island about 800 miles off the Queensland coast.

Area of distribution

Over the entire island of New Caledonia.

Disposition

Lively, inquisitive, peaceful.

Physical descriptions

Both the cock and hen are a bright, solid grassy green with a bright red head, throat, rump and tail. The beak is black and the legs are brownish horn. The juvenile is a more drab green with orange-carmine on its rump and tail and a hint of red on its head and throat. The juvenile's bill is at first amber yellow with a dark tip.

Mutations include:
  • Pied (Pied normals have yellow splashes of color; pied sea-greens have white splashes of color) - autosomal recessive
  • Seagreen (this mutation causes the green areas to become seagreen and the red areas to become more orange in color)
  • Blue (the green areas are replaced by a deep blue; the mask becomes salmon)

Sexing

The cock will sing a longer more drawn out trill than the hen. The cock may have slightly more vibrant and extensive red on top of his head and/or throat, but this method of sexing is often unreliable. The red on the hen's face does not extend behind the eye. The red on her rump may be less intense, and her belly may not "glisten" as much in the sunlight.

Song

The song is described as a simple strophe composed of numerous repetitions of a single element (single whistling note repeated).

Pictures

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Parrot Finches
Bathing parrot finches.

Parrot finch

Sea-green
Sea-green parrot finch


Pied
Pied normal parrot finch. Photo by Billy Cochran.


Red-throated parrot finch
Photo by Esben.


Group of red-throated parrotfinches
Photo by Esben.


Favorite foods

Live food (cooked mealworms, ant pupae, flying termites, small grasshoppers, crickets), grass seeds, small millet, niger, poppy seed, oats, some fruits (apples, oranges, figs, dates, guava, papaya), egg food, green food (spinach, dandelion, chickweed).

Natural habitat

Grassland, open areas with some shrubbery, plantations, gardens, forest edge and clearings.

Habits

When not breeding, these parrot finches live in groups or small family parties. Feeds in both growing vegetation and on the ground. Breeding pairs prefer to nest in crevices or holes over building a free-standing nest. Courtship involves the cock chasing the hen while calling loudly. The pair may display by circling each other with tails pointed toward each other.

Special considerations

Because these birds may be prone to obesity and stress when housed in a cage, they should be kept in larger enclosures such as spacious aviaries; high-fat foods should be avoided. Other health problems may include: egg-binding, intestinal parasites (since these birds tend to feed on the ground) including coccidia, yeast problems (with damp cage floors), heat stress (if chased during hot weather), and air-sac mites. Larger enclosures with open areas will allow you to witness their fast and agile flight. These birds are sensitive to the cold and do best if housed at temperatures above 65° F (18° C). They are very fond of bathing and should be provided with regular bathing opportunities. Because they are "climbing birds" in the wild, they will appreciate some vertical perching opportunities such as bamboo and/or tall grasses in their enclosure.

Fertile hybrids have been reported between this species and the blue-faced parrot finch (E. trichroa), so be careful when housing these species together. The red-throated parrotfinch has additionally hybridized with: Royal parrotfinch (E. regia), Fiji parrotfinch (E. pealii), Pin-tailed parrotfinch (E. psittacea), Bengalese finches (Lonchura domestica), Red-browed firetail (Neochmia temporalis) (hybrids died as nestlings), and the Black-throated finch (Poephila cincta).

Breeding season

They may breed year-round.

Breeding tips

Pairs are most fertile when young, but should be at least 9 months old before breeding. Birds can be bred in one-pair-per-enclosure (better productivity) or in a colony. If colony breeding, make sure there are at least as many hens as cocks. Red-throated parrotfinches can be bred in cages, flights, or aviaries, but should be bred indoors in cooler climates.

Introduce the hen(s) about a week before the cock(s). Nests may be built in hollow logs, within large nest boxes, in trees, shrubs, under overhanging clumps of grass, or in recesses of buildings. Provide numerous nest sites at various heights and "pre-stuff" the nests with a handful of nesting material. Nesting materials used include long grass stalks (coarse and fine), long leaves, and coconut fiber. Feathers are sometimes used to line the inside of the egg chamber. Both sexes engage in nest construction; mating usually, but not always, takes place inside of the nest. Both members of the pair will incubate the eggs and roost together in the nest at night.

Breeding birds should be offered a breeding diet from the very start of breeding, including a wide variety of food such as egg food, sprouted seed, peas, corn, and half-ripe seeds. Live food is desirable but optional. The parents may not accept animal proteins until their chicks hatch, but will use these foods for rearing purposes. The parents may not start feeding the chicks until they are about 24 hours old. Chicks have luminous gape tubercles which act to reflect light and help the parents find the hungry mouths in the dark of the nest.

Chicks participate in nest hygiene by positioning themselves near the nest entrance to defecate outside of the nest. The parents cease brooding the chicks when they reach 9-10 days of age; it is therefore important to ensure a sufficiently warm enclosure at night for the wellbeing of the chicks at this stage. If the nest becomes too hot or if the chicks are disturbed before they are ready to fledge, they may prematurely exit the nest and fall. Once they have fledged, the young do not tend to return to the nest to roost at night. Both parents may feed the fledglings, but this is mainly the job of the cock; the hen will be more interested in starting her next brood. If the used nest is dirty, it should be removed so the pair builds a fresh one before the next clutch of eggs is laid. If being housed in an aviary, young may not need to be removed from the enclosure until they are molting into adult plumage; birds being cage bred, however, should have the young removed once fully weaned (3 weeks after fledging) to prevent the cock from chasing them. Molting into adult colors takes about 8 weeks. Once they have attained adult plumage, young males and females should be housed separately. Continue to feed the juveniles the breeding diet until they have completed their molt into adult colors.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:3-6 eggs
Incubation date:Once the 4th egg is laid
Hatch date:After 12-14 days of incubation
Fledge date:At 21 days of age
Wean date:Around 5-6 weeks of age
Sexual maturity:Although Parrot Finches may become sexually mature around 3-4 months of age, many breeders recommend waiting until the birds are at least 6-9 months of age before breeding them


Related Article(s)

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Red-throated Parrot Finches

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