Long tailed Finch - Poephila acuticauda

Long tailed Finch – Poephila acuticauda

Other Names: Black heart, Black heart finch, Grassfinch, Hecks grassfinch, Red billed longtail, Shaft tail finch, Yellow billed long tail, Orange billed grass finch.

Sub Species:  Yellow billed Long tail grassfinch
Red billed long tailed grassfinch

Colour Mutations:  White Longtail
Fawn Longtail
Cream Longtail

Size: 15cm

Habitat: Open grasslands. Found around water courses, pandanus plains and sometimes pastoral areas. 

Distribution: Northern Australia. (From Broome through to Cape York Peninsula)

Long tailed Finch - Poephila acuticauda

Long tailed Finch – Poephila acuticauda

Food: Insects are commonly cuaght inthe wild and even during flight.  Canary seed, millet, soaked seeds and grass seeds.  During breeding season and especially during the colder weather, egg binding is fairly common. It is recommended you mix cod liver oil with the seed to prevent the female from becoming egg bound.

Nesting: Variety! These birds will consider a lot of options for nests. I have had success with nest boxes, Wicker baskets and wire frames. However they do also carry the habit of moving nests out of breeding season. In the wild nests are constructed from strong long grass to create a dome like shape. The nests will be lined internally with softer materials such as feathers.

Breeding: The Natural breeding season occurs from Janaury to June. Clutches of eggs range between 4 to 7. Both the male and female share the brooding responsibilities as well as raising ther young. This will continue until they are over 21 days old. Incubation is said to last 12-14 days.  They are quite territorial and do not take well to nest inspections. Be sure to check the nest whilst the female is not inside as this may scare her away for good.

Sexing: Quite difficult to sex. Female – Similar to the male having slightly smaller throat patch.


After last egg is laid

Average clutch:

4-7 Eggs

Days to hatch:

12-14 days from incubation

Fledge date:

Generally 21-22 days old

Wean date:

5-6 weeks

First molt:

Begins 8 weeks and completes when reaches 3 months of age

Sexual maturity

Adult plumage indicates maturity however not to be bred as per all finches until they reach the age of 12 months.

Article Extract from Marcus Pollard at Clifton Finch Aviaries

This species was one of the commoner finches during the days of legal trapping but is becoming harder to find these days. Two forms are usually encountered: the yellow billed form, or blackheart, and the red billed form, or Heck’s. There are a number of weird looking mutations available but none, in my opinion, can hold a candle to the original forms. This bird has a reputation for being a nuisance in mixed collections. This is a well-founded reputation as the species is constantly ‘checking out’ nest sites and raiding choice pieces of nesting material. They will often intimidate other species and cause them to abandon their nests. This is most commonly witnessed in smaller aviaries. A single pair in an aviary is not too bad but any more can create a real problem.

They are a confiding bird and can become very tame towards their keepers.

Again livefood is not essential to breeding this species, as I know of one breeder who produced 35 odd youngsters with no livefood at all. They will consume soaked/sprouted seed and love green seeding grasses. If you are fortunate enough you may even have a male that sings! These are a rarity and I have only ever heard the song from one bird in the dozen’s that I have kept and bred. He would sit on the seed tray and sing to his female and would not allow my appearance to perturb him in the least – no mean feat!!
The longtail and the closely related Parson finch are worth including in most collections but you need to be aware of their inquisitive nature. Their relative the mask finch possesses none of these vices but does lack the endearing nature common to the longtail.

A popularity of 8 and a compatibility of 5.

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