Experiences with African Finches


In my 20 years of raising African finches, I have not found the exact formula for success.

There are a few truisms that cannot be ignored and they are that Cordon Bleus (red cheeks) will almost always throw chicks out of the nest when first imported. After the second or third year, greater success is had. I feel they become more trusting of available food to which they have become accustomed and successfully raise their young. The offspring of the hatchings are more reliable but not in every instance.

African Fires are more reliable in this regard, but do not tolerate interference at breeding time and require more privacy. Infertile eggs are numerous among this species if too crowded as copulation is easily interrupted. They are very good breeders if in the right environment. I have suecessf u I ly bred them in cages of approximately 3' x 3' x 2' as well as in a large, planted greenhouse. In the cage arrangement they can be housed with other benign species such as Strawberries (Red Avadavat), Bichenos (Owl finches), Lady Goulds, etc., without interference.

Gray and Green Singing Finches are very aggressive with all species as well as their own and should be housed alone for success. I learned this lesson the hard way. At one time I felt that unrelated species would be okay together and I had a pair of Green Singers and Strawberries in a large cage 4' x 5' x 3' and Strawberries had five chicks in the nest. At the same time the Green Singers were in the process of nesting and when the Strawberries fledged the Singer male attacked and killed four of the chicks before I could intervene and I was able to save only one. Needless to say, I removed the Singers and they have successfully raised one clutch and are on three fertile eggs at this moment. The Strawberries went on to raise two clutches of three and five and are in the process of fledging four more. A pair of Cordon Bleus was in the cage and the Strawberry hen selected the cup nest that was in the cage for the Singers. When the chicks hatched, the Bleu male fed the chicks, cana1y style, and beat the Strawberries to the freshly put down food. Together they finished the job. In the meantime, his hen was in a nearby wicker nest on infertile eggs.

Another species with which I have had success is Gold-breasted Waxbills. These tiniest of all the waxbills are a joy to watch including listening to their delightful little song. They usually set up housekeeping in an abandoned nest of another species. Sometimes they put in fresh material but not always. They clutch three to five small white eggs and I have never known them to throw chicks out.