ESTRILDID FINCHES IN AVICULTURE ... Black-bellied and White-bellied Crimson Finches


When discussing avicultural skills needed for breeding Australian finches, one generally has in mind Gouldians (Chloeba gouldiae), Shaft-tails (Poephila acuticauda), and the likebirds which require a level of talent and expertise on par with those required for eating a hamburger. However, the Black- and White-bellied Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton phaeton and Neochmia phaeton evangelinae) are usually not included in such discussions in this country due to their perceived difficulty in aviculture.

Black-bellied Crimson Finch

The Black-bellied Crimson Finch is not often imported and when it is, commands a high price-$600 to $800 a pair. Coupled with the fact that it has a bad reputation as being hard to breed or even keep alive, it is usually ignored by American aviculturists. Also, most of the literature regarding this bird is either misleading or downright incorrect. This has further muddied the water. In fact, most published reports declare this to be a community bird, nests being found in Pandanus Trees and gutters of houses and such. One of the first things one learns when housing these birds is that this is a very aggressive species. The aviculturist walks away scratching his head wondering how his charges can be so belligerent in captivity yet so laid-back in the wild.

Recently we discussed this with Mike Fidler who has done much research in Australia on the behavior of estrildid finches in the wild. We were hoping he could shed some light on this subject. Fidler said that occasionally something will appear in print that is not true and that this misinformation may be repeated over and over again by other authors referring to it in their own writings. Because it appears in print so often, it is accepted as truth. With the Black- and White-bellied Crimson Finches, the truth is that they will stay together as a family unit only until the juveniles are driven off by the cock's desire to recycle. Fidler confirms this is an aggressive species with bonded pairs having their own breeding territories. In this respect, they....