Black-throated Finch Poephila cincta

The black-throated finch is known by a lot of different names, including the parson finch, black-rumped grassfinch, or black throat. The black-rumped subspecies is colloquially known as the diggle. They are only found in the grassy woodlands of north-eastern Australia, having gone extinct in New South Wales.

The species is endangered predominantly due to human development, most notably Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, which is currently being constructed on some of the last suitable black-throated finch habitat.

The black-throated finch is well established in aviculture. Due to its endangered status in the wild, a license or permit is required to keep this species in an aviary in many states.

Black-throated finch by Dominic Sherony

Housing & Compatibility

Black-throated finches can be housed successfully as single pairs, a colony, or as part of a mixed collection. They prefer a large planted aviary, but are generally tolerant of smaller aviaries or even a large flight cage. Some breeders find they perform better when housed in small groups of 2-3 pairs.

Black-throated finches will interbreed with other birds in the Poephila genus (Long-tailed finches and Masked finches) and produce worthless hybrids. These species must be housed separately.

Black-throated finches are generally very placid in a mixed aviary situation. They can be successfully housed with most placid finches, quail, doves, and (space permitting) Neophema parrots.

Diet & Feeding

A quality seed mix including canary seed, various millets and panicum forms the basis of the black-throated finch’s diet. Seed lacks many essential vitamins and minerals which must be compensated for by introducing other foods. Sprouted seed increases the nutritional value of seed and is a cheap way to improve your birds health. Freshly grown green seed heads should also be offered frequently.

Leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, endive and silverbeet are in important part of the black-throated finch’s diet. Spinach can also be given, but only sparingly as it can contribute to calcium deficiency.

Live food will be consumed during the breeding season. Small mealworms, maggots, and termites are most frequently given. Commercial soft foods—such as egg and biscuit mix—are especially loved by black-throated finches.

Do not feed anything from the list of forbidden foods.

Photo credit: Eric Vanderduys

Breeding

Black-throated finches breed best in spring and autumn, with a hen bird that is at least 12 months of age. In a colony situation, a dominant pair will generally emerge and experience superior breeding results. The least dominant pairs may not breed at all. Pairs may protect their nest and the surrounding area quite fiercely, so don’t attempt to house in a colony or mixed collection unless the aviary is sufficiently large.

A wide variety of artificial nests will be accepted, however they prefer dense brush a few meters above the ground. They will construct a dome-shaped nest from fine strands of dry grass. Avoid nest inspections unless absolutely necessary, and wait for young chicks to fledge before attempting to attach leg rings.

They typically lay 4-6 eggs in each clutch, which are incubated by both parents for approximately 14 days. Young birds fledge the nest at three weeks of age and are usually independent a month later. Young birds can generally be left with their parents without issue, however aggression issues are not unheard of and should be watched for closely.

Sexing

Difficult to visually sex. The male’s head is slightly broader than the female’s, and has a light grey colouration compared to the female’s darker brownish/grey colouration.

Mutations

A small number of colour mutations have been established. Readily available mutations include pied, fawn, cream and white.

Health

Black-throated finch’s diet is high in live food, making them especially vulnerable to parasite infection. A strict worming and parasite control regime should be implemented to ensure their long-term health. We recommend Moxidectin Plus.

Healthy birds can be expected to reach approximately 7-8 years of age.

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1 thought on “<span class="entry-title-primary">Black-throated Finch</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Poephila cincta</span>”

  1. Can we Please have pictures showing the difference between Black Throateds, Diggles and Longtails, in a future article. For those of us who don’t run into them often. Thanks

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