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What Is a Red-Headed Finch?

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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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The red-headed finch is a small, tropical bird with green wings, red head and neck, and a red tail. It is also called the red-face or red-throated parrot finch and is a member of the genus Erythrura, which comprises about a dozen different species of parrot finch. In the wild, this finch eats live food like insects and worms as well as fruits, nuts, and berries, and flocks in groups of 15 to 20.

Typical size for a red-headed finch is about 4.75 inches long (about 12 cm). They are a monomorphic species, meaning that the male and the female have identical plumage. This makes it difficult to sex both hatchlings and even fully mature red-headed finches.

The red-headed finch has three basic color mutations: the sea-green, the pied, and the pied sea-green. Compared to the original grass green coloring of the red-headed finch, the sea-green is more teal and may have an orange head and neck. A pied is a mutation which has significant yellow or white plumage. The pied sea-green has a combination of both light colored feathers and teal feathers.

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Red-headed finches are sexually mature around 12 months of age and pair at an early age. That being the case, these birds are not happy alone and must be kept with a mate or in a colony. A typical pair can produce and raise three clutches of four to six eggs per year. It is not uncommon for pairs to breed more often, but this is often discouraged by breeders as it can exhaust the female and affect the health of the hatchlings.

Before laying eggs, both birds build the nest. The female is particularly effective, working quickly and vigorously. After the nest is constructed, the eggs are laid and incubate for about two weeks. Hatchlings grow quickly, become independent at three to four weeks, and begin to fly around the same time.

This small finch is highly active. In many cases, a subdued red-headed is ill. They enjoy investigating their environment and spend much of their time exploring their cage, especially its floor. Their curious and cheerful personality makes them popular as house pets.

Even though these birds are very common as pets, flocks can be found in the wild. The red-headed parrot finch is found in tropical islands in open areas that are close to forests. They are mostly found on New Caledonia, an island in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Australia.

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