The Diamond Firetail Finch
by Orlando Bonnici
The diamond firetail finch is one of the most demanding finches in aviculture and it is not a suitable finch for a beginner. Many experienced aviculturists have found it extremely hard to breed and keep this finch and I must say that I have found a lot of problems with this species too.
This bird is to be kept in either separate pairs or else in a colony as it has a very aggressive nature and will attack similar species and also smaller finches if kept in a small aviary. Breeding these birds is not difficult if you offer the right conditions. These birds will breed all year long except for the cold winter months. The like to build their own tunnel-like nests although wicker baskets and budgie nests have been used many times.
I have found that the Diamond has a tendency to carry excess fat if not given a large exercise area so a good diet which includes vegetables, vitamins, grit and eggshell should be provided. Although both the male and female are similar in appearance, there are a number of indicators of sex. Females have brighter beaks where as the males beak has a silver-gray hue. Females have larger white spots and a narrower heads and narrower black chest bands than the male. I have found the most reliable indicator to be the faint white hue over the eye of males. Also, males have a raspy song that they sing while twisting their head down and to the side.
The mating dance consists of the male holding a LONG piece of grass in his beak and bobbing up and down while puffing his chest and lowering his head. It is one of the more comical mating dances. At the same time he emits a long raspy sound. The female lays 5-7 eggs which both parents incubate for 13 days. Diamond Firetails take longer to fledge than many species; about 30 days. They are independent about two weeks after they fledge. They come into their adult colors fairly quickly and can be safely breed after about 9 months.
Diamond Firetail finches are a bit demanding to any aviculturist and I would not recommend them to any beginner. They are also a bit expensive when compared to other finches as they sell for about LM20 per pair. If anyone however does have the necessary space and patience with these birds they can prove to be a very delightful addition to any aviary. I wish the best of luck to any breeder willing to experience these birds and I hope that you have successful results with these birds.
Donated by Orlando Bonnici