The whydah finch might look like a rather ordinary finch during the nonbreeding season, but when the males get full plumage and are ready to breed, they grow a very long tail. For example, the Paradise Whydah is only about 5 inches in length during nonbreeding times, and reaches 15 inches from head to tip of tail during breeding season. They lose the tail again at the end of the season. When the tail is in full plumage, they will shake it to attract the female.
As you can see in the photo on the left, the tail is quite impressive. These little birds can get along with many other species in an aviary. However, some species of whydah are considered difficult to breed in captivity. In fact, some species will lay their eggs in other birds nesting areas, such as waxbill nests, and let those other birds foster their young. Sounds like a great way to avoid lots of hard work!
The whydah is an African bird. There are a number of species in this group, such as the Paradise, Broad-tailed, Pin-tailed, Shafttail, Fischer’s, Resplendent, and White-Winged whydahs. These birds eat a diet of finch seed, various greens, and in the wild they will eat live insects. It’s important to give them sufficient space in an aviary for that long tail so it doesn’t get damaged.
The diminutive parrots of the genus Forpus often have a fiesty, courageous nature that belies their small size. The beak is quite large for such a tiny bird, giving them a somewhat unusual appearance. Many people refer to parrotlets as “amazons in a pint-sized body.” They truly do not seem to realize they are about the size of a parakeet. Continue reading »
Few birds compare in beauty to the lovely Lady Gouldian Finches. I call them the “Flying Mondrians” because their exquisite, clearly demarcated colors remind me of the squares of color in a Mondrian painting. In the photo above the male is in the background, the female in front. You will notice that the colors are paler in the female of the species, making it easy to distinguish the sexes in this species of finch. There are a number of beautiful mutations of Gouldian finches as well. Continue reading »
These Aren’t Your City Park Pigeons
Pigeons have long played an important part in human lives. Homing pigeons were some of the first postal workers, carrying messages of war and peace throughout history. As late as World War II, the United States used pigeons to bring messages to soldiers behind enemy lines. Continue reading »
Time and time again I hear from disgruntled lovebird owners. They bought a hand-fed baby lovebird from a pet store and the bird bites, refuses to come out of the cage, and acts as if it is being murdered when you finally catch it. These experiences have given lovebirds an undeserved reputation as wild, unfriendly parrots. In truth, when these petite African parrots are hand-fed and given an adequate amount of attention during the first few months of life, they make wonderful, endearing pets. Continue reading »