by Arlette Spiteri
The Owl Finch, known also as Bicheno Finch is growing rapidly popular amongst Maltese breeders. These small finches are very active ones and have a hardy and social character. In fact they can join any aviary given the adequate space and conditions. They are a bit expensive, selling at around Lm20 per pair but many will agree that they value every penny spent on them.
The overall body color is a deep brown sometimes looking almost black. The beak is a beautiful gray/silver color. The face is a bright white appearing almost silver at times. The face itself is surrounded by a black band accentuating the boldness of the white face. Below the black band surrounding the face the chest is white in color. At times, although not always, the female's chest can be a slightly creamy white color versus the male's bright white. Below the white chest another black band separates the chest from the lower body. The male can have a bolder, thicker, black band but, as stated above this is not always the case.
The Bicheno Finches enjoy large spaces, especially cages with lots of branches and leaves where they can hide and play. These birds are very susceptible to cold temperatures so if you are planning to breed these birds try to keep them in an indoor aviary especially in cold Winter months. These birds are very hard to distinguish visually and many argue that the only true difference between the sexes is that the males can sing whilst the females donít. So if you plan to breed a pair of these finches watch attentively and listen carefully to catch a male singing.
Any bonds the pairs form are very strong and lifelong, so keep a bonded pair with each other for breeding year after year. Large oval wicker nests or budgie boxes should be placed at various locations in the flight, and coconut fiber with a few feathers for nesting material. 4-6 eggs will be laid, and incubation which is shared by the parents, will start when the 3rd or 4th egg is laid. Both parents will sleep in the nest together. After 12 days of incubation, any fertile eggs will hatch. Provide plenty of egg and live food for rearing.
I have read many articles which state owls to not be expert flyers. I have not found that to be the case. I have found that housing owls in a six foot long flight is excellent for these little birds. You can watch them for hours flying end to end of their flight expertly diverting up and over the various perches in their path with expert precision. They are peaceful birds and can be housed with any other peaceful species. Although, I would not recommend housing owls with zebras for fear of possible breeding between the two species.
The Bicheno finch is a wonderful addition to any aviary. They are beautiful birds, serene and can cater to the likes of the beginning finch collector or the more serious breeder.
Donated by Arlette Spiteri