Star Finch

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Image:Starfich.JPG

Common Name: Star Finch
Scientific Name: Neochmia ruficauda

Size: 4 ½ inches (12 cm)

Habitat: Australia; Endemic to Northern Australia. They occur from Shark Bay to Northern New South Wales. They now have spread to the Gulf of Carpentaria, mostly on the western side. They inhabit tropical swamps, rice and sugar-cane fields, dense scrub, woodland, trees, and in tall grasses near water.

Status: Near Threatened to endangered in the wild. Global population: 100,000-499,999 with a decreasing trend. The habitats of Star Finch are threatened by overgrazing of grasslands, removing essential cover, as well as sources of food. Selective grazing of perennials during the dry season may also remove grasses that are needed for survival during the wet season. Burning of grassland during the dry season may reduce the fallen seed during the wet season and thus reduce the food supply needed by Star Finch. This species is also threatened by cage-bird trades. Conservation measures underway: Surveys were conducted to estimate the population and trends of the eastern subspecies clarescens. An understanding of the natural fire regime is being built up. All three subspecies are listed separately in the Action Plan for Australian Birds: ruficauda as possibly extinct, clarescens as endangered and subclarescens as near threatened.

Diet: Seeds, rich varieties of insects, and greens. When feeding, they tend to avoid landing on the ground preferring to grasp onto the seed heads of grasses. Their diet includes white ants, half-ripe and ripe grass seeds, fruit culture flies, and during the breeding season they prefer to eat seeds, rich varieties of insects, and greens. In captivity finches will feed on hard cooked chopped eggs, spray millet, soaked seed, mature legumes, grated cheese, cooked rice, a variety of fresh fruits, chopped dark greens or fresh fortified canary seed.

Nesting: Mature Star Finches are similar in color but the females tend to be a bit duller than the males and the females have less red on their face. Immature Star Finches are olive-brown above and pale olive below.

During the breeding season males become territorial around the immediate nesting area. Compared to the Green Singing Finch, the Star Finch has a very cheerful song. Males perform a song and dance during courtship and while they are performing they are holding a grass stem in their bill. The males tend to ruff up the feathers on their head, flanks, and breast and have their tails twisted toward the female. A whole lot of bobbing is done during courtship and the males tend to sit close to the females to peer into her face.

Star Finches reach sexual maturity 12 months after hatching and can reproduce for up to five years. When in captivity they can produce three broods per year. The females lay three to six pure white eggs. The male and female incubate the eggs for about fourteen days. The fledglings color is a pale green on the underside, a dull green on the topside and dull gray on the tail. When the fledglings are 10-12 days old they begin to have their fist set of feathers. When they reach 21 days old they leave the nest for the first time but are still dependent on their parents. Thirty-five to forty-two days after hatching they will become fully independent.

Cool Facts: Despite the fact that the Star Finch has been listed as endangered in the wild, it is a common pet bird. This species has mutations such as the Yellow & Cinnamon varieties.

Star finches show aggression by throwing their young out of the nest when the fledglings refuse to eat the food given to them.


Found in Songbird ReMix Australia Volume II

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