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Black-throated Finch

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Is the Black-throated Finch right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Parson Finch (P. c. cincta); Diggles Parson Finch and Black-rumped Parson Finch (P. c. atropygialis)

Scientific name: Poephila cincta

The basics:
The Black-throated Finch is a dapper Australian grassfinch that looks much like a Shaft-tail Finch with a black beak, a much shorter tail, and a rather pale brown chest. It's a peaceful bird that can do well in a mixed-species aviary, but it is often overlooked in favor of its long-tailed cousin. There are two subspecies. The classic Parson Finch is the nominate subspecies with a white-rump. The Diggle's Finch (P. c. atropygialis), has a black rump.

The Black-throated Finch has faced some challenges on its home territory in northeast Australia. The population of this little seed-eater was in freefall during much of the twentieth century, as a result of changes in land use. The last population in southeast Queensland vanished at some point in the 1990s. However, the rate of disappearance has slowed, hinting that recovery programs will work to preserve the species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has removed the species from its former ranking of “Near Threatened,” but the situation still bears watching to make sure the progress continues.

Appearance:
A dapper grassfinch with a striking black throat that contrasts with its pale head.

Weight: 15 grams (0.5 oz.)

Average size:
10 centimeters (4 inc.)

Lifespan:
6 - 8 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Black-throated Finch may be more aggressive to other species than most other Australian grassfinches, but they do offer some rewards. They are noted to be good parents, who tend to be devoted to raising their often larger than average broods. You can get a lot of entertainment value out of a large aviary where these birds are allowed to court and bond with the mates of their own choice, to whom they become extremely attached.

Housing:
The Black-throated Finch is a strong bird who demands space to spread its wings, so it is often recommended that you not keep them in a cage. Instead, house them as part of an indoor or outdoor mixed species or colony aviary that allows them plenty of room to fly, to perform their courtship dances, and to mingle with other friendly species. That said, successful breeders have cage-bred pairs in very large cages, for example 4' long by 2' wide by 2' tall. But you simply cannot shortchange them on space if you want to keep them healthy and happy.

They are more aggressive than some species of Australian grassfinches, so be cautious when housing Black-throated Finches in mixed species colonies with other birds. Because they may hybridize with their close relatives, do not house them with Masked Grassfinch or Parson Finch. Do you have a double door on your aviary? These birds are fast, and you will have a devil of a time recapturing them if they escape.

Diet:
As an Australian grassfinch, the Black-throated Finch thrives on a relatively simple diet, but never use this as an excuse to short-change them. The core of the diet should be a high quality small seed mix, with plenty of spray millet on the side. Most people will also offer a high quality eggfood during the molt and breeding season, as well as sprouts, greens, and a bit of chopped fruits and vegetables. This species seems to crave more live food than the Shaft-tail, so be sure to provide regular treats of small mealworms or other choice snacks. You should also provide clean cuttlebone, grit, and the vitamins and other supplements recommended by your avian vet or your breeder.

Written by Elaine Radford

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