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Pintailed Nonpareil

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Is the Pintailed Nonpareil right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Pintailed Parrotfinch; Longtailed Munia

Scientific name: Erythrura prasina

The basics:
Considered a rice field pest in its native land, the beautiful Pintailed Nonpareil was once the most widely available and inexpensive of the parrotfinches. Alas, it has proven to be a much more difficult challenge than some of the other parrotfinches, and even the experts may struggle for success with this species. Before choosing the Pintail Nonpareil, you will want to have success breeding other finches, including the Society Finches that you might need to foster any neglected eggs or babies. It would probably be wise to also have previous experience breeding another species of parrotfinch.

The Pintailed Nonpareil is a widespread grass-eating finch found over a large region of Southeast Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. While the bird is admired as a cagebird in its homelands, it is often disliked by farmers because it can be seen feeding on seeding rice.

Appearance:
The Pintailed Nonpareil is one of the blue-faced parrotfinches, and it resembles the true Blue-faced Parrotfinch insofar as it has a blue face and green upperparts. However, the males are distinguished by their long tails, not to mention their bright red rumps, tails, and bellies. The females, while undeniably beautiful birds, are less striking than their mates, since they are duller and their tails never grow as long.

Weight:
12 - 14 grams (0.4 - 0.5 oz.)

Average size:
13 - 15 centimeters (5 - 6 in.)

Lifespan:
7 - 8 years

Behavior / temperament:
The agreeable Pintailed Nonpareil is a wonderful aviary bird because it loves to form small colonies with its own kind and doesn't try to harass the members of other species. Domestic-bred birds are better at eating good diets than the wild-caught specimens of days gone by, but they are still a challenge to breed because they can become nervous or flighty. While modern breeders have a goal of creating a captive population of parent-bred birds, they may still find occasion to foster abandoned eggs or babies to Society Finches.

Housing:
Pintailed Nonpareils are a joy to house as a flock in a large walk-in aviary that will allow these social parrotfinches to breed in colonies. Like some other parrotfinches, the males may be a bit too insistent with the females, so you are advised to provide a couple of extra females. The aviary can also include other gentle, non-competing species. Access to natural sunlight will help the birds maintain their best color. However, this tropical species must be kept warm throughout the breeding season, so you will need to provide heat or different winter quarters during the cool months. This particular species doesn't seem to do well in cages.

Diet:
The Pintailed Nonpareil is not as prone to obesity as the other parrotfinches, and it seems to demand a somewhat different diet. In fact, it is guilty of being a picky eater, something the Red-throated Parrotfinch owner might find difficult to imagine of any parrotfinch. Fortunately, they tend to be gentle, social birds who do well in colonies or mixed-species aviary, and they can learn to eat a new food from the example of a “teacher” bird who already eats it.

In addition to millet sprays and a high quality small seed mix, there is simply no substitute for a good supply of the milky seeding heads of grasses. You should also offer sprouts, greens, chopped grated salad made from apples, carrots, and other tasty fruits. You may serve a variety of live food (not just mealworms) as well as a good eggfood 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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