Breeding the Bar-breasted Firefinch


1Vl acquired our first five, wildWc;ught Bar-breasted Firefinches out of quarantine from an importer in October of 1991. They were in worse than typical "quarantine condition" - barely recognizable as Bar-breasteds and, certainly, of undetermined sex. Even after regrowing their feathers, breeding the Bar-breasted was a difficult challenge as they are not dimorphic, the sexes looking quite similar. Setting up a true pair was not an easy task.

The Bar-breasted Firefinch, only rarely available, is about the same size as the very much more common Senegal, or Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala). It also has a red beak, making it possible to distinguish it, the Senegal, and the Brown Firefinch (Lagonosticta nitidula) from all other firefinches, the Senegal being the most commonly imported and the Brown probably never imported. A pattern of white spots on the breast gives the Bar-breasted its broken bar effect.

Of the five birds we had acquired, we set up two tentative pairs as soon as their feathers had regrown. As with our other wild-caught breeding pairs, these were set up in separate four foot by two foot by three foot high flights. Small, closed wicker baskets were supplied high in the corners, with clumps of dried grasses shielding the entrance and a natural perch positioned for easy access to the nest opening. A small handful of soft hay was placed in each nest basket as a "starter." Dry, untreated straw was scattered on the flight floor. Drinking water with Nekton S added was provided in an open, shallow dish on the flight floor. A finch/ canary seed mixture was offered in a hang-on plastic dish, with several millet sprays hung against perches and...