Species group: Australian Finches
Other common names: Ruficauda; Red-faced Finch; Rufous-tailed Finch
Scientific name: Neochmia ruficauda
The Star Finch is a classic and rather tiny Australian grassfinch with a bright red face. They are reliable breeders that do well on a relatively simple diet, allowing humans to develop a number of interesting mutations.
There are, or at least there were, three subspecies of Star Finch, all endemic to Australia. They seem to like wetter grasslands, occurring in swampy or heavily irrigated areas. Sadly, the nominate subspecies, N. r. ruficauda, was apparently last seen in the wild in 1994, and it may now be extinct. Fortunately, the other two subspecies seem to be holding their own, and the successful N. r. subclarescens may number 200,000 in the wild.
It will likely not be possible to recover the extinct subspecies because all three subspecies were interbred freely in captivity in days gone by – a reminder that it's important to pay attention to breeding like to like at the subspecies level wherever you can.
The face and especially the chest of the Star Finch is dotted with the so-called “stars.” The males are noticeably brighter and possess a larger red face mask than the females. In addition to the normal red face, there is a popular yellow-faced mutation, as well as several other mutations.
10 grams (0.35 oz.)
10 - 11 centimeters (4 in.)
7 - 8 years
Behavior / temperament:
Star Finches are sweet, gentle birds who get along well with others who will not harass them. The male performs a song and dance for the female, and he may also sit with the female when she's on the eggs. Their devotion to each other is truly touching.
Star Finches may be tiny, but they do need a roomy flight which encourages them to fly, to exercise, and to allow the male to perform his charming mating dance. Some breeders have recommended breeding cages of around 2' long, 2' deep, and 1-1/2 to 2' tall, with a bar spacing of about 1/2” wide. If you'd like them to breed, you could try attaching some sort of greenery (even if it's plastic) to the outside of the cage to give the birds a feeling of privacy.
Many breeders prefer a planted aviary large enough to hold a colony, as the gentle Star Finch gets along with other birds well. However, don't place Melba Finches – an unrelated species of red-faced finch – in the same flight. The male Melba Finches may feel that they are in a rivalry with the red-faced Stars, and they are known to attack them. Star Finches are not cold tolerant, so they need a source of warmth in winter.
As an Australian grassfinch, the Star Finch thrives on a relatively simple diet, but never use this as an excuse to short-change these beautiful finches. The core of the diet should be a high quality small seed mix, with plenty of spray millet on the side. One breeder notes that his Stars prefer larger than average seeds, so he actually offers a high quality Budgerigar mix instead of a classic finch mix. 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. Some people also like to add a good finch pellet, and there are even breeders who have taught Star Finches to eat live food by providing a “teacher” finch in the colony that already knows how to take live insects. 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
little comedian, great pets, vibrant color, colourful little finches, bright red faces
scatter seed, MASSIVE mess
light nesters, inexpensive choice
An absolutely gorgeous addition to any finch colony.
I ended up with one of these guys out of pity! I worked at a chain pet store, and this guy always caught me eye. He was gorgeous, but shy, and had been there for at least two years according to my manager. But he wasn't allowed to 'adopt' the poor guy out due to company policy. I ended up hand raising a clutch of Society Finches that hatched on accident, and once they were all grown up they were living happily in a large cage, and the lonely Star Finch went on sale. Coupled with my employee discount, he was reasonably affordable (for me, anyway!), and so I took him home.
He acclimated in with my Societies very quickly and easily. There was never any squabbling. After a few weeks, he began to sing and chirrup, and it was so lovely to listen to. He was a welcome splash of vibrant color mixed in with the Soceities, and I really enjoyed having him.
Eventually I ended up giving them all to a friend who had an aviary; they all live there happily to this day!.
From amandarenee007 Jun 22 2015 10:32PM
Keeping Star Finches
Star finches are colourful little finches with bright red faces and yellow and green bodies. They are easy to feed but can require a certain heat level, depending on what conditions they have been raised in, so always check this when purchasing. When I first had the cock bird, he was a little comedian in the flight, singing enthusiastically to any bird that had green in it in the hopes of finding a mate. Including a greenfinch twice his size who he chased around for two days singing madly. The greenie was a cock bird and completely mystified by the attention! Since getting him a mate and moving them into a breeder together, he still sings but a little less frequently. Theirs is a typical finch song. The main downside of Stars if you are wanting to breed is they have a reputation as light nesters, meaning if they are disturbed they will easily abandon eggs or chicks. Therefore mine are in the top corner breeder as far from everything as I can manage and they are showing interest in the nest so fingers crossed..
From angelatempest Jan 19 2014 10:30AM
Easy to keep, but not very enjoyable.
I was given two birds as a present at a young age and did not really enjoy them. In my experience, these birds do not make great pets for children. They are extremely difficult to train and do not like to be handled. As a child, I found this boring.
However, if you have previously had a bird as a pet and found it to be a good experience then maybe a Finch would be a good choice for your next purchase.
They are attractive birds, and are not too loud.
Given their size, Finches do not need a very large cage, and are therefore an inexpensive choice compared to other birds. Their feed and treats are also quite cheap and are available in most pet stores or supermarkets.
I would advise treating your Finches with Cuttlefish. They really enjoy this and it gives them something to do.
Personally, I let my birds out of the cage to fly around the room quite regularly. They seemed to benefit from this chance to stretch their wings. However, getting them back in to the cage can be quite a struggle. I would advise you tempt them back with either food or treats..
From katielc Apr 12 2013 1:25PM