Crimson Finch  (Neoc  hmia phaeton) . Photo: Chris Wiley

Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton). Photo: Chris Wiley

Article kindly provided by Glenn Johnson

Introduction

Crimson Finches have always been one of the rarer kept Australian finches, even more so, since the end of wild-trapped birds. They have a bad reputation for being aggressive, and the fact that they are reasonably expensive, could be a couple of reasons why they are not commonly kept.

 

Description

There are two types of Crimson Finches, the more common black-bellied and much less kept and expensive white-bellied race. The crown is dark brown, back and wings paler brown washed red, tail long scarlet above, black below, cheeks and whole of under parts deep crimson, spotted white on flanks, centre of belly black, beak red. Hens are duller, with black beaks. They are an elegant upright bird that range from 120-140mm long.

Distribution

The black bellied or more common blood finch is found along the coastal areas from tropical north stretching inland in some areas. The white-bellied species is found in Cape York Peninsular up into New Guinea. In their natural ranges, Crimsons can be found living amongst cane and long grasses growing along watercourses. They also frequent Pandanus country, where they often build their nests amongst these palms.

Housing

Crimson Finches, like Gouldians can suffer badly in miserable weather, keeping this in mind an aviary suitable for Crimsons should afford them a reasonable amount of protection from inclement weather. They will live and breed in a box type aviary, but look and do much better in a well planted flight aviary with facilities to bathe, as they love nothing better. Crimsons have a bad reputation for being aggressive, but this is not true of every pair, and many will mix quite well.

Crimson Finches have a bad reputation for being aggressive, and the fact that they are reasonably expensive, could be a couple of reasons why they are not commonly kept.

Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton)

Diet

They will take the standard finch mix, comprising of mixed millets and canary seed. They love greenfood, such as millet heads, milkthistle, chickweed, summer grass, etc. and this is best hung up off the ground where they will spend much time picking it over. Crimsons need live food to gain the best breeding results, mealworms, white ants, gentles, and fruit fly, will all be taken. Sprouted seed, madeira cake, and insectivore cake along with egg and biscuit mix are all excellent additives when rearing chicks. Grit in the form of shellgrit, baked fowl egg shells and charcoal should always be available to them. Fresh water in clean containers is just common sense.

Breeding

Crimsons will usually attempt to breed in the warmer months and prefer to build their own bulky domed shape nest, built from coarse grasses, and lined with coconut fibre and feathers, mostly white. They usually build high in tea tree branches lining the shelter walls or natural growing shrubs in the flight. They have been known to use nest boxes, cane nests hollow logs but more often, prefer to construct their own. The usual clutch is five to seven eggs, and fertility is good, and incubation takes 14 days. It is very common for the parents to nest again soon after the young fledge. They show a great dislike for nest inspection, so try and curb sticky fingers.

Conclusion

Crimsons are strikingly beautiful, reasonably hardy and given the right conditions, diet and facilities, not all that difficult to breed. With these finches becoming harder to acquire, it is up to present day aviculturists to breed them to assure their availability for future breeders.

 Crimson Finch  (Neoc  hmia phaeton) . Photo: Chris Wiley

Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton). Photo: Chris Wiley

Crimsons are strikingly beautiful, reasonably hardy and given the right conditions, diet and facilities, not all that difficult to breed.