Estrildid Finches in Aviculture ... Breeding the Pin, tailed Nonpareil Parrot Finch (Erythrura prasina)


Years ago, the Pin-railed onpareil
Parrotfinch was one of the staples
of the bird trade, being brought in by the
thousands. Not much effon was spent
on actually trying to breed these birds,
since in mo t cases it was easier to replace
them than to breed them. The Pintailed
onpareil, the courge of ricegrowers
in Asia, is now becoming very
depleted in the wild, as it is in our
birdrooms. Some people actually consider
it a threatened bird clue to efforts to
e liminate it as a pe t in its nati\'e range.
On impone rs' lists it was always a relatively
inexpensi\'e bird - about 60 per
pair. lt now goes for as much as $2')0 per
pair, and we have hea rd of domestics
commanding a top pric of$400 per pair.
The situation is only going to get worse.
This is not an easy bird to breed and
one, in our experience, which seems to
go against the standard rules of finch
breeding. We first bred the Pin-tails in
the summer of 1989. We fostered our
first clutch to a pair of Society Finches,
the eggs hatching on _july 7, 1989, and
continue ro work with this species today,
concentrating on the yellow-bellied
mutation (s e our video print in the
February/ March 1992 issue of AFA
Watchbird - "Parrotfinches in American
Aviculture" - p. 37). Those who try to
breed this bird in cages will be sadly disappointed.
Even in our larger cages,
which are 4 ft. long x 3 ft. high x 2 ft.
wide, it remains a shy, nervous bird,
with much individual quarreling and a
reluctance to breed . However, when released
into a larger situation, as our indoortropical

door tropical birdroorn which measures 24 ft. x 12 fr. x 8 ft. high, the true nature of the Pin-railed Nonpareil is immediately revealed. The long, streamlined shape of rhe Pin-rail does indeed reflect its nature, as it becomes readily apparent that this is a bird which loves to fly. Our birdroorn, which is \\'ell-plan~d with trees and hanging baskets, some real,

orne silk, provides a beautiful background for study of the behavior and personality of this beautiful bird. One of the first things that becomes apparent is that this is indeed a community species. We do not recommend one breeding pair per flight, as we so often recommend in rhe breeding of estrildid finches, but rather a colony of at least three pairs in a large enclosed area. Also,

urprisingly enough, this bird mixes ve1y well with other species. It does not seem to care about what other estrildid finches with which it is mixed, with the exception of the Mindanao Erytbrura coloria and Blue-breasted Parrot Finches Erytbrura tricolor which we have seen males taking a liking to. Other than that, we feel this is one of the few estrildid finches that can be kept in a mixed situation. This bird will breed, bathe, molt, and even sleep as a colony. lt is not unusual to see 10 or so individuals sleeping inches from each other in a hanging basket.

Pin-tails are opportunistic breeders and although we do not consider them cavity breeders, they do seem to like nooks and crannies. The height of these locations does not seem to matter, as our males have nest-built from the floor up


to the ceiling, as evidenced by the nest that one built under the sink while another pair chose a very public spot between a Society fostering cage and a sheet hung by the door to prevent drafts. Although these birds will build their own nests, and one indeed built a tubeshaped nest with a hidden exit on the bottom in a hanging basket of philodendron, they have a preference for large wicker finch baskets. These should be hung from waist height to as high as possible in the birdroom, secluded by branches, leaves, etc. to provide security. We construct hanging nest stations which we place at various high locations around the birdroom walls which can be conveniently hung on a nail or hook. These are easily removed to permit nestcleaning, egg-fostering, etc. and are quite useful since many of our birds have a preference forthem.

Pin-tailed Nonpareils like it warm.

Our birdroom averages 80" F with 80% humidity. We encourage our birds to breed by misting. Pin-tails do not react to a hot and cold season, but rather to a wet and dry one.