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Post  FinchG on Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:34 am

There are about 10 species of fire finch, depending on which reference is used. These include the red bill (Senegal), black belly, blue bill and the black face. All fire finches are native to Africa and most have been unavailable in this country since the early 90s. Fortunately, importation has resumed over the last couple of years and fair numbers of them are available to private breeders at this time. The Senegal (aka red-billed fire finch) represents the majority of the birds now in this country but the Jameson’s, black belly, black face and several others can also be found.

All species are dimorphic, meaning that males are easily distinguished from females. Male fire finches are varying shades of red accented with black, gray or brown. Some species have tiny white- or ivory-colored spots on the breast or flanks. Female birds are mainly earthy brown in color and some have a pinkish wash to the face or breast. Pair bonding is somewhat loose with fire finches and they are not overly affectionate toward one another but normally stay in close proximity.

Fire finches can be sensitive to stress and diet changes and therefore should be treated carefully when first purchased. A wide variety of food items, including high-fat seeds such as niger, seem to help them make the necessary transition. Spray millet is also an important food for newly imported birds.

Fire finches come from mostly arid regions, so damp conditions should be avoided. Sand is the preferred ground cover for aviaries. They prefer bright and sunny conditions but should always have access to water and shade. Good lighting also shows the rich and subtle coloring of the fire finches.

All species of fire finch spend a lot of time on or near the ground and seem to like stones or very low perches that keep them off the cage bottom. Fire finches are not aggressive birds and can be mixed safely with other species but breeding results are usually better when they are housed in small groups or as single pairs. Various species of fire finch can be housed together without aggression, but hybridizing can happen so just one species per enclosure is ideal.

Breeding In Aviaries
Fire finches are not considered an easy species to breed in our aviaries. An exception to this is the little red-billed fire finch, which has proven to be a ready breeder and good parent. I know of several cases where they have bred in fairly small spaces and without live food. Freshly grated egg is offered as a substitute for insects and the red bill readily consume it and feed it to their babies. The red bill can also be utilized as foster parents for the more difficult species. Fostered young are usually better breeders later on because they are comfortable in captive conditions.

Male fire finches have almost no audible song and their courtship displays are very subtle and easy to miss. Nesting activity is also done quite secretly. Because of their love of privacy, nest checks are not advisable because there is a strong chance that the parents will desert the young.

Nest building is typical for African grassland finches. The spherical nest is usually built near or even on the ground in a shrub or clump of grass. In their native range, most of the vegetation is only a few feet high, which explains their tendency to nest low to the ground. In captivity, most will accept a wicker finch basket but will usually build their own nest if given a suitable place to do so. Suitable nesting material includes coconut fiber, shredded burlap, sisal and Bermuda grass. Like most African finches, fire finches like to line their nests, particularly with small white feathers. Sanitized feathers from an inexpensive down pillow are good for this. Finely shredded white tissue makes an acceptable substitute if you don’t have feathers.

The nest entrance is built to the side or at the bottom and is well hidden. Fire finches tend to be very secretive while nesting and are rarely seen entering or leaving their nests. Disturbances should be kept to a minimum to increase the odds of success.

Sometimes fire finches build a “cock’s nest” at the top of the dome. This type of nest is a false nest, meant to fool passing predators into the site is not being used, while the real nest is hidden in the center of the bundle of grasses. Sometimes the male bird will add discarded eggshells or old feathers to the false nest to add to the illusion. The parent birds are diligent about removing droppings from the nest in order to keep it odor free to avoid detection.

All species lay four to six tiny white eggs incubation lasts around 13 days. All species of fire finch babies have dark skin and long gray down. They also have fluorescent tubercles at the corner of the mouth or markings on the upper palate, which helps parents to feed them in the darkness of the nest. In the wild, fire finches are thought to feed only insects to their young for the first 10 or so days. Their breeding season is slightly variable and always follows the rains when insects are plentiful. Youngsters fledge at about 18 to 19 days and are independent around 10 days later. Males begin to get some red feathering at around 6 to 7 weeks, making sexing very easy.
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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:56 pm

Thankyou for the article :) at the moment I actually have a pair of red billed fire finches that have some young about to fledge. These little birds are very sneaky and secretive just as the article above stated. I never once saw them mate or even building the nest, as a matter of fact the male built 3 diferent nest and I had no idea wich one had the babies in them because if I was watching they wouldnt go in the nest. But I got lucky :) and now the babies are about to fledge any day now.

The best advise I can give to anyone trying to breed these beautifull little birds is to respect them, give them the privecy they diserve avoid the temptation to do nest check better yet don't even think about it :) They need a well planted aviary with a lot of cover to hide and build their nest. Also give them plenty of soft food mines eat a mix of hard boiled egg, freezedried MealWorms and BloodWorms, herbs, miracle meal, bee pollen all mixed together. Fresh veggies and fruits also are good. And then sit back and wait before you know it you will have some babies. GOOD LUCK


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:51 pm

Rancel, do you have pictures? That is so exciting that yours mated. It sounds like a big accomplishment for you to have babies ready to fledge You should be proud and happy that you took such good care of them to produce babies for you. From what I have read its hard to get them to breed much less have fledglings.

I am going thru my first Gouldian's babies and have been on pins and needles, they are about 11 days old.


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:25 pm

I guess I just got lucky I have a good pair that is willing to breed for me all ive done is just supply them with the stuff they need to make it happen happy1 . I have a couple of pictures but I don't know how to shrink them its saying that they are too big to post...


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:29 pm

By the way CONGRATS ON THE NEW BABIES FinchG happy1 my gouldian are sitting on their 2nd clutch of eggs and I'm hoping they do well. The process is very stressful for both the bird and bird owner but the outcome of seen a baby outweighs it all!!!


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:37 pm

Thank you, did your gouldians first cluch go ok?

I wrote all my worries in here

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Sorry about posting pictures, I went to photo bucket and copied the image code and pasted it in my post if that helps if the pictures are too big.

Is the picture in your avatar one of your birds?


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:54 pm

No unfortunately the first clutch they had were all unfertil. Now they have been on this 2nd clutch for a little more than a week now and i haven't and dont even want to check or bother them. My new theory is that the least that you bother or interact with them the better they will do, case and point so far my fire finches...
And yea ill try a few things here to get the pics posted. And no the parrot finch in my avatar picture unfortunately doesn't belong to me I wish it did its a beautifull finch. It's just the same avatar picture I use on FF


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:05 pm

My first clutch with my BH's were not fertile. Then I didn't think about it and I did see them going in and out of the nest but its hard to see inside their nest so I really couldn't do much peeking. Then the day I finally did look I saw two I thought, but 30 minutes late they tossed a baby out but it had been dead for a while. Then it looked like two were doing good but today from what I can see I only see one, so I don't know if the other one survived and if it didn't I need to remove it, but in order to do this it will cause a big uproar in the cage because the red head has 4 or 5 hatchlings. And to get inside the BH nest I will have to take it all the way out and not real sure what I should do. I am going to check again and make sure if the second one is alive or not.


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:10 pm

Just be very carefull because you could end up causing more harm then good. That would suck especially after all the hard work and headaches you have probably gone through to get to this point. Personally I think I would let nature take its course.


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:18 pm

Your right, I wouldn't want them to abandon their babies at this stage. I was just worried if the one BH baby died that it would cause the remaining baby to get sick.


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:44 pm

See and that might be or might not be a problem. In their natural habitat I bet gouldian babies die all the time in the nest now I don't know if it ends up affecting others in the nest, but I don't thinks theres any info on that. One would imagine that it does since theres now a decomposing baby next to the one that's alive. Have you noticed anything different that makes you belive its died ???


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:57 pm

I used a flash light to try and see in the nest without causing to much disturbance and the one I can see has its eyes open and it looks like I can see part of the other one but it doesn't look like its breathing from what I can tell. They both were doing fine a few days ago and that is why I didn't bother them.

I will never use this kind of deep basket again, I thought it would give them privacy but it ended up to where I can't do anything to the nest without taking it completely out.


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:32 pm

I'm so sorry I don't know what to tell you.... And I would hate to give you an advise that might end up hurting you or the birds. I only hope someone with more experience or someone who's had the same problem would see this and have a solition....

I will never use this kind of deep basket again, I thought it would give them privacy but it ended up to where I can't do anything to the nest without taking it completely out.
Sometimes this is for the best for example with a basket like this one that you have you can breed harder species like cordon blues and fires and they have more privecy and it also stops us from doing nest checks since we practicaly can't even see inside so its just how nature intended it to be without our interference, but unfortunatly sometimes we might encounter a problem like the one you have now and it turns everything upside down.


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:44 pm

Sometimes this is for the best for example with a basket like this one that you have you can breed harder species like cordon blues and fires and they have more privecy and it also stops us from doing nest checks since we practicaly can't even see inside so its just how nature intended it to be without our interference, but unfortunatly sometimes we might encounter a problem like the one you have now and it turns everything upside down.

Rancel that makes a lot of sense, it is so much better to leave them alone, you are so right in thinking that. It would have worked for my gouldians except for this one baby, I am sure I will have to remove it but just not sure how to do it with the least amount of stress for them and me.


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Post  Paradise Aviary on Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:58 pm

I'm sorry I couldnt be of much help with your problem I wish you the best of luck and hopefully the baby isn't dead but if he is the hope you get him out and everything goes back to normal without any problems. This is why personally I love canaries more than any other finch because they are so domesticated you can move them all around or touch the eggs while they are incubating and they just don't mind at all happy1 if only all other finches were like this. We wouldn't have any more problems laughing1


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Post  FinchG on Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:07 pm

Thank you, and yes wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to worry so much about out finches. I did not realize canaries let you do that, but its good to know in case I do decide to get some, that is once I have all the finches I can handle.


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Post  FinchG on Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:12 am

One of our members, ranchnanny, has canaries and has posted pictures, were you able to read her posts in the canary section?


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