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Forbes Parrotfinch

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Is the Forbes Parrotfinch right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Three-colored Parrotfinch;Three-colored Parrot Finch; Tri-colored Parrotfinch; Tri-colored Parrot Finch; Blue-breasted Parrotfinch; Blue-breasted Parrot Finch; Forbes Parrot Finch

Scientific name: Erythrura tricolor

The basics:
The Forbes Parrotfinch, the tiniest of the popular parrotfinches, is a true tropical jewel. However, a 1994 article by American breeders Stash Buckley and Carol Anne Calvin warned of less scrupulous dealers breeding these species with larger blue-faced parrotfinches, causing the birds to lose some of the charm of their tiny size as well as their natural bloodlines. One would hope that this practice no longer occurs, but it's always wise to know your breeder. Forbes Parrotfinch is native to East Timor and some nearby Indonesian islands.

Appearance:
A tiny finch with the colorful plumage of a parrot. The adult male's face, breast, and underparts are a bright blue that contrasts beautifully with the glossy green upperparts and flashy red rump and tail. The female is a similar tri-colored bird, but the depth of the color is not quite as intense.

Weight:
8 - 9 grams (0.3 oz.)

Average size:
9 - 10 centimeters (3.5 - 4 in.)

Lifespan:
6 - 8 years

Behavior / temperament:
The beautiful Forbes Parrotfinch is nervous and may be quick to abandon a nesting effort, causing many breeders to foster the eggs or babies under Society Finches. While they are gentle little birds who will not harm others in a mixed-species planted aviary, you cannot expect to have the best chances of breeding success under those conditions. They prefer the security of their own territory. Certainly do not keep them with other blue-faced parrotfinches, as they are suspected of hybridizing, causing the Forbes to lose their tiny, gemlike size.

The Forbes Parrotfinch is also somewhat nervous about its human owner and may retreat into protective cover when you approach – an admittedly frustrating habit for a bird that shows best in sunlight.

Housing:
The active, somewhat nervous Forbes Parrotfinch needs a lot of room, perhaps more than seems reasonable at first glance for such a tiny bird. Because it is nervous, breeders tend to suggest keeping one pair to a flight. Because it can become obese without regular exercise, which includes flying vertically as well as horizontally, breeders recommend that the flights in question be large – perhaps four feet by two feet by three feet tall or even taller. These birds should be protected from the cold and damp, but they will show to best effect if they have access to sunlight.

Diet:
The general diet for the Forbes Parrotfinch is somewhat familiar if you have raised waxbills or Gouldian Finches in the past, but you must be careful not to overfeed these birds. They have been known to take too much eggfood, too many sunflower seeds or other fatty seeds, and/or too many mealworms – resulting in obesity and a reduced fertility. The small seed mix should be fresh enough to sprout,and you can test it regularly, since you should be serving sprouts, green shoots, milky seeding heads of grasses, and similar food regularly. You do need to serve a variety of live food (not just mealworms) as you approach the breeding season and continue through the molt, but be sure to rest the birds for the winter, which includes removing any livefood and other incentives to nest out of season.

Written by Elaine Radford

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