Golden Song Sparrow Passer luteus

The golden song sparrow, known outside Australia as the Sudan golden sparrow, is a small bird in the sparrow family found in sub-Saharan African. The species is established in Australian aviculture, but is not especially common and is becoming increasingly more difficult to source.

Photo credit: Nik Borrow

Housing & Compatibility

Golden song sparrows can be housed as single pairs or a colony, or as part of a mixed collection if aviary mates are selected carefully. They are not well suited to living in a cage, and much prefer a good sized aviary.

Golden song sparrows can be aggressive towards other birds, especially smaller finches. In order to house them as part of a mixed collection, they should be kept with larger, more resilient birds. Small doves and parrots in the Neophema genus make good aviary mates. The best way to manage their aggression is to provide a large, sparsely-populated aviary with plenty of hiding places.

Diet & Feeding

A quality finch seed mix including canary seed and various millets forms the basis of the golden song sparrow’s diet. Sprouting seed increases its nutritional value and is an effective way to improve your bird’s health and breeding performance. Freshly grown green seed heads can also be offered.

Some leafy greens should be provided throughout the year, although they don’t seem as keen on greens as many other finches. Kale, bok choy, endive, and silverbeet are the most nutritious and are very easy to grow. Spinach can also be given, but only sparingly as it can contribute to calcium deficiency.

Golden song sparrows are voracious consumers of live food—especially during the breeding season. Mealworms, maggots, termites, and small crickets will be consumed readily. Commercial soft finch food mixes can also be provided for an added nutrient boost.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Breeding Golden Song Sparrows

Golden song finches breed best in spring through to autumn, with a hen bird that is at least 12 months of age. Pairs may take a couple of years to breed successfully for the first time.

They prefer to nest in a shrub or dense dry brush, however a budgie-sized nest box will be acceptable if a natural nesting location cannot be provided. Golden song sparrows will not tolerate nest inspections.

They typically lay 2-4 eggs in each clutch, which are incubated by the hen for approximately 14 days. Young birds fledge the nest at three weeks of age and are usually fully independent about a month later. Aggression between parents and their mature offspring is uncommon.

Mutations

There are no established golden song sparrow mutations.

Sexing

Easy to visually sex, as only males have the vivid golden plumage. Females are a pale sand colour.

Health

The golden song sparrow’s diet is high in live food, making them especially vulnerable to parasitic infection. A strict worming and parasite control regime should be implemented to ensure their long-term health.

Healthy birds can be expected to reach over 10 years of age.

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