Breeding the Peale's Parrot Finch


Recently we decided to import some
Peale's Parrot Finches (Erythrura
pealii), a bird of undeniable beauty
and allure. We felt that with the uncertainty
of the quarantine Jaws and the
tightening of restrictions on the airlines,
it was now or never.
We made an arrangement with a
good friend, Sigie Meyer, of SE Bird
and Supply, to bring in some of these
birds, domestically bred in Europe.
You can imagine our joy and exhilaration
when the day came when the
birds finally arrived in the United
States and quarantine had begun.
The days passed without incident
and we got a call from Sigie saying the
birds were ready to be shipped. We
fully expected that there would be a
minimum of hens, and some of the
birds would be quite old. You can
imagine our surprise when it turned
out that we had an equal number of
cocks and hens, all appearing to be
under two years of age.
These birds were set up in two hold-

ing cages for several weeks to allow
the birds to acclimate. They settled
down quickly, and we decided to pair
them up and place them in breeding
cages approximately 3 feet long by 2
feet high by 2 feet wide in our basement
"tropical" birdroom, with a minimum
temperature of 78°F and 70 to 80
percent humidity. They started nesting
almost immediately, using hay and
burlap strands as nesting materials,
stuffing them i~to large, closed wicker
We have noted an interesting habit
with the Peale's Parrot Finch. This is
the only parrot finch species in which
the birds feed each other. This seems
to work both ways - the cock feeding
the hen and the hen feeding the
cock. Also, the cock Peale's Parrot
Finch mating dance is almost identical
to that of the cock Red-headed Parrot
Finch- little more than a bobbing up 

and down motion. Also worthy of
note is the variability of the extent of
the beautiful turquoise blue on the
throat and chest of the cock.
Although the Peale's Parrot Finches
loved eggfood and mealworms (as
well as everything else they were
offered), they seemed reluctant to
incubate correctly, so many eggs were
fostered to Society Finches. Average
clutch size was four, with a 50 percent
fertility rate.
The first egg to hatch was one successfully
incubated by the parents,
hatching on November 15, 1991, after
approximately 14 days of incubation.
Only the one egg hatched in this
clutch of four. After approximately
two weeks, during which time the pair
was supplied with eggfood and mealworms,
the cock appeared bored with
his chick and feeding chores, and was
obviously ready to recycle.
Fearing abandonment, we pulled
the chick and put him under a pair of
Societies who were raising a Spectabiled
Mannikin of about the same age.
Unfortunately, they did not accept
him. So, reluctantly, we pulled the
baby Peale's Parrot Finch, clipped a
young Society's wings for company,
and placed both in our Animal Intensive
Care Unit for hand-feeding.
The baby Peale's was fed approximately
every hour and a half from 6:30
a.m. until 11:30 p.m. with Roudybush
Handfeeding Formula No. 3.
The Peale's was self-feeding by midDecember,
being weaned by the use
of spray millet and canary/finch mix
scattered on the incubator floor. The
young Society was instrumental in
teaching the Peale's to eat seed.
Subsequent clutches were fostered
to Societies with few problems, but,
surprisingly enough, although baby
Peale's have blue faces, this first chick
was the only one we've encountered
so far with red feathers above the
beak. Apparently there is great variation
in plumage coloration in juvenile
Although these birds have come in
before (we had four birds brought in
previously by Sigie Meyer- only one
of which we believed to have been a
hen), successful breeding seems to
have eluded this country. We would
hope to hear of other serious breeders
bringing in these birds to ensure a
large enough gene pool to establish a
viable population of this beautiful and
personable finch.