Common Names: Shaft-tail Finch, Heck’s Shaft-ail, Long Tailed Grassfinch
Origin: The Shaft-tail originates from Australia and is still very numerous second only to the Zebra Finch. A red billed sub-species (Phophila acuticauda hecki) from the western region is now more common in US aviculture than the original yellow billed species (Phoephila acuticauda) from the eastern region.
Description: In the normal form the Shaft-tail has a silver-gray head with a rosy-brown body. A black eye mask extends from the beak to the eye and a unique black bib can be seen under the lower mandible reaching the upper breast. The rump is white with a black band above it. Central tail feathers are black while the beak is red. They have flesh-red colored legs. Both sexes look identical with only slight differences in body size, beak color and bib size. Males are normally bigger, have a wider bib and brighter beaks.
Compatibility: This species is normally a good prospect for a mixed aviary. The get along well with each other and other finches although they may bicker on occasion with smaller wax bills during breeding season.
Breeding: Shaft-tails can be cage or aviary bred. Better breeding results seem to come when pairs are housed separately. Bird house gourds and finch nest boxes are offered for the nest. They seem to prefer the nest boxes in which they can lay deep in and hide. Shaft-tails will use a variety of nesting material such as coco fiber, shredded paper, dried grasses and feathers. They must build the nest themselves and will not tolerate you building it for them.. After breeding takes place the hen normally lays 4-7 eggs which both parents take turns incubating for 14 days. After hatching it will be about 21 days before the young leave the nest. At about 42 days old the young Shaft-tails are weaned and independent.
Diet: Paradise Earth Premium FInch Blend