Estrildid Finches in Aviculture ... Indo-Pacific Estrildid Finches: Their Status in American Aviculture



The family of estrildid finches is far-reaching and quite varied in these tropical climates. In aviculture some are very common, some are very rare and some have yet to reach our shores. In fact, the most popular group of estrildid finches in captivity are the Australian finches. However, since these finches are well documented and generally known in aviculture, we feel no need to cover them in this paper.


One of the most popular families of the Inda-Pacific finches are the parrotfinches (genus Erythrnra). Although these birds have been coveted for years, only two species have been established in the US: the Blue-faced, Erythrura trichroa, and the Red-headed, E. psittacea, Parrotfinches. In European aviculture and rarely imported into the US are the Mindanao, E. coloria, and the Peale's, E. pealii, Parrotfinches.

Recently allowed to be exported from Indonesia, we have the addition of the Blue-breasted, or Forbes, E. tricolor, Parrotfinch. Although gaining a firm foothold in aviculture in Europe, this finch is precarious in American aviculture. With the influx of so many hybridized birds, it is doubtful whether a pure-blood population will be established in the U.S.

The newest addition to aviculture is the Papuan Parrotfinch, E. papuana, from New Guinea. Our good friend, Mike Fidler, recently visited a wellknown aviculturist in Germany in hopes of bringing a few pairs back to England. These will be the first known Papuans in his country. Another friend from the States recently made a trip to Vietnam and New Guinea in an effort to collect this species. He did indeed succeed and his six pair are the only known Papuan Parrotfinches within the US.

The gem of the parrotfinches, the Royal Parrotfinch, E. cyaneovirens, has generally been suspected and rumored to have occurred in American aviculture. However, we feel these stories are produced by aviculturists exercising wishful thinking. We can only confirm the existence of one pair in aviculture, worldwide, and it is in Germany.

Two members of the genus Erythrura are still being imported into the U.S., although somewhat irregularly, and their prices are rising sharply. These are Bamboo, E. hyperythra, and the Pin-tailed Nonpareil, E. prasina, Parrotfinches. It is our belief that neither of these parrotfinches will be established, due to the difficulty of propagation.

The Bamboo Parrot-finch is relatively not-threatened and is doing well in the wild. However, the prospects for the Pin-tailed Nonpareil look dismal. In an enlightening conversation with Robin Restall, we were informed that populations are being quickly depleted in the wild and in many places have reached the point from which they can no longer recover. Being members of the Taxon Advisory Group for Estrildid Finches, we have advised Josef Lindholm, III that zoos should seriously consider this species for inclusion in their breeding...