Species group: Parrotfinches
Other common names: Red-headed Parrot Finch (a bad usage since it also refers to a different species); Red-throated Parrot Finch; Red-faced Parrotfinch
Scientific name: Erythrura psittacea
Only the male Red-throated Parrotfinch sings, but these beautiful birds can be a great choice for the intermediate to expert finch breeder looking for color. This adaptable finch is a resident of New Caledonia, a remote island some 750 miles east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean, where it may be found in a variety of lowland habitats ranging from forest edge to urban gardens.
The splendid Red-throated Parrotfinch is a small Christmas colored bird with a bright green body that is enhanced by the scarlet face, throat, rump, and tail. The females may have a tad less red on the top of the head, and they may be a tad duller overall than the males, but it's difficult to tell the two apart unless you pay attention to their behavior.
15 grams (0.5 oz.)
9 - 10 centimeters (3.5 - 4 in.)
5 - 7 years
Behavior / temperament:
The male Red-throated Parrotfinch is not a romantic bird, and he may chase and even force himself on the female – thus the advice to provide extra females, so that one bird is not constantly being harassed. Some females may look a little scruffy if they get too much attention from the males, so do make sure you have plenty of space and plenty of cover. However, their personality is otherwise quite highly rated among the parrotfinches, as these little birds tend to be gentle and peaceful to non-competing species in their aviary, and they are curious enough to take an interest in their owner.
Experienced breeders do raise the Red-throated Parrotfinch in very large cages, as proven by the fact that there are some human-created mutations out there like sea green, lutino, pied and more. However, these beautiful birds do best in a very large planted aviary that shows their color to best effect and also allows the females to escape the males when they get a little too frisky. The males may sing to their females to win their attention, but they may also chase them around, so design the aviary with an eye to providing lots of cover for tired birds to rest and to hide. Breeders advise that you have to supply more females than males in any colony-breeding situation, to prevent the males from getting too bold and ganging up on the females. As a tropical species, they require sufficient warmth, and you will need to be able to heat the aviary in the cooler months or else be able to transfer your birds to warmer quarters.
The general diet for the Red-throated 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 season, which includes removing any livefood and other incentives to nest out of season.
Written by Elaine Radford