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Peters's Twinspot

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Nigel Voaden

Is the Peters's Twinspot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-throated Twinspot; Peters' Twinspot; Peter's Twinspot

Scientific name: Hypargos niveoguttatus

The basics:
The Peters's Twinspot is a beautiful African finch highly coveted by experts. The rarity of the birds in captivity, combined with their need for insect food and their tendency to be somewhat aggressive, makes them a choice for well-heeled aviculturists who have plenty of space as well as experience with breeding other African finches.

There are two subspecies of Peters' Twinspot, which can be found over a fairly large area in eastern Africa as far south as an isolated population in southern Mozambique. They're a mostly lowland species that likes partly open, scrubby country where they can retreat into the bushes if need be.

Appearance:
The male Peters's Twinspot is a spectacular creature with a scarlet face and bib, as well as a matching scarlet rump. The black underbelly is boldly marked with bright white spots on the sides. The female is pretty but not quite as dramatic, since she has a rather plain buffy face.

Weight:
16 - 18 grams (0.6 oz.)

Average size:
12 - 13 centimeters (5 in.)

Lifespan:
5 - 7 years

Behavior / temperament:
The serious breeder should consider setting up breeding pairs of Peters' Twinspots in their own individual flights or cages, with visual barriers to prevent the males from seeing their rivals. There have been complaints of birds in a large, planted aviary becoming nervous and spending time skulking in thick bushes, as well as reports of seasonal aggression.

Housing:
Peters' Twinspots are similar to the waxbills in their housing needs. As birds that exercise by flying and like to claim a territory, they need more room than might seem reasonable at first. They also require some planted greenery in the cage or flight to give them a feeling of security. For a single pair, try a minimum size of 4' long by 2' feet wide and 2' tall, with a minimum bar spacing of ½” wide. Make sure that you have a nice bushy bird-safe plant in front of the nest basket. They really like warmth, with some people suggesting that you maintain them at temperatures over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have them in outdoor breedings quarters, you may need to arrange for a place to bring them indoors for the winter.

Note that Peters' Twinspots tend to nest on or near the ground, so you should provide supportive material like nest baskets in the appropriate locations. In a mixed-species, planted aviary, you are going to need to take special care, because these birds (like some other species that feature red-faced males) can become aggressive during the breeding season.

Diet:
Sometimes the twinspots are classed with the waxbills, and you can use a good waxbill diet to feed your Peters' Twinspots. The backbone of the diet is a high quality small seed mix, fresh enough to sprout – and you should test it by sprouting regularly. They will love the milky seeding heads of grasses, in addition to the sprouts. You should also supply a finely chopped salad that includes greens, apple, carrot, and broccoli, as well as eggfood and/or a high quality finch pellet that the birds will eat. As you approach the breeding season, offer plenty of tiny white-skinned mealworms, waxworms, small crickets, and perhaps ant pupae or fly larvae to bring them into season. You may find it worthwhile to make a small homemade insect trap, to provide them with moths and other insects to add variety. All finches, including the twinspots, need access to clean grit and clean cuttlebone.

Written by Elaine Radford

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