The fire finch--also known as the Senegal fire finch, African fire finch or ruddy--can be shy and retiring, but are very hardy birds for beginning collectors. They are one of the most widespread birds in Africa. Fire finches are fairly gregarious and will do well in mixed flocks with other finches of similar size. They breed easily and will form bonded pairs readily.
Things You'll Need
- Large enclosure
- Wicker or straw nesting baskets
- Seed-based, live and green food
- nestling food, pelletized food or egg food
Ensure that the enclosure for the birds is roomy and allows a lot of freedom. When breeding fire finches, the more space the better. A 6-foot flight cage is ideal. Also, include lots of plant cover to allow the birds places to hide.
Provide large wicker or straw baskets that can be hidden behind plant materials in the enclosure. Add long blades and stems of grass, sisal, coconut fiber, dried moss and wool for use in nest construction.
Purchase fire finches in pairs. The birds are dimorphic, having different plumage for male and female. The males are bright red with darker red wings and a red beak. Females are dusty brown with darker brown wings and a brownish red beak. The birds should be at least 6 months old, active and in good health.
Offer a range of food during breeding and while chicks are young. A good finch or canary seed mix can be used. Soaked and sprouted seeds are also important to add to the diet. During breeding, feeding live food is also beneficial. Smaller meal worms or crickets are good choices. Include nestling food, pelletized food or egg food, which can be obtained from a pet supply store. Cuttle bones should be offered to ensure the birds get the proper minerals in their diet. Greens such as kale or romaine should be provided.
Watch the birds to see if they are pairing off and building a dome-shaped nest either in the baskets provided or in the mid-level of the flight cage. This is typical breeding behavior and a good indicator that breeding is going on. Breeding may occur at any time during the year. Once breeding is noted, remove any other adult birds from the enclosure.
Observe the nest for eggs and if either male and female birds are incubating them. The female will usually lay three to six white eggs. The eggs should hatch in 12 or 13 days. The chicks will be fledglings for about 18 to 21 days and totally independent 14 to 21 days later.
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