Masked Finch - Poephila personata

Masked Finch – Poephila personata

Other Names: Mask Finch, Masked Grassfinch

Size: 12cm

Habitat: Dry, scrubland that has dense low bush. Also lives in grassy plains near waterways.

Distribution: Northern Australia from around Derby in Western Australia through to the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.

Masked Finch - Poephila personata

Masked Finch – Poephila personata

Food: Picking dry seeds from the ground to half ripe seeds still on the stem, The masked finch will also regularly feed on live insects. These birds drink by sucking (Similar to the Zebra, Star, and Long tail finch) and therefore water supplies can be obtained easier than most finch species. Fresh grass seed can be fed daily in the breeding season. Other green feed can consist of Dandelion, Milk thistle, Chickweed, Endive, Kale and Chicory. With regards to livefood, Masks do very well when supplied with copious amounts of Termites. They will readily take Gentles (Maggots) and Mealworms and often show a preference for maggots over mealworms.

Nesting: The nest sits on the ground  in grasses or around tree hollows and low lying bushes. The nest itself is dome shaped made from grass blades and stems. A new Nest will be made after each clutch.

Egg incubation – Carried out by both parents.
Inspections – Painted finch will accept nest inspections however be mindful that every inspection could lead to abandonment. A new Nest will be made after each clutch.

Breeding:  In the natural habitat they build their nests rather low to the ground however in an aviary environment the nests are a lot higher. Some pairs may choose to utilise and breed in a wooden nest box or wicker basket. The nest is bulky and does not consist of a tunnel. The exterior is constructed with dried grass stems with the interior being lined with wool and feathers. Charcoal is also present in the nest.

Masked finches are better bred in large well planted aviaries. As they nest in low lying shrubs and grasses they will also utilised nest boxes and dome shape nesting receptacles.
Risk for Hybrids – Do not house Black throated, Long tailed, or Masked finches together.

Mating Behaviour: The male will start hopping from branch to branch in sight of the female. This ritual will continue with the male obtaining a piece of grass or feather, carrying it in his beak. The female will remain in a static position allowing the male to perform his ritual. One the hen is accepting both birds will point their tails towards each other. This is normally the sign that the hen is accepting, she will move her tail repeatedly to signify her readiness to mate.

Species Profile

Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Chordata
Class – Aves
Order – Passeriformes
Family – Estrildidae
Genus – Poephila

Sexing: Sexing can be difficult! The only noticeable difference between the males and female is that the black face mask is smaller on the female. The brown colour on the top of the cocks head is usually richer in colour. Size of the birds may also assist in determining the sex. The hens are naturally smaller than the cocks.

Mutations: There are 2 types of mutations. 1. Fawn and 2. White. Both mutations are very rarely seen and reported.

Notes:

Pair bonding is very strong in these birds. Bonding is best achieved when mixing with a large amount of young uncoloured masked finches. They will naturally pair better on their own. Masked finches are prone to pneumonia when kept in cooler climates. Ensure cages and aviaries floors are dry and kept away from cold draughts.

Summary

Incubation:

 

Average clutch:

4-6 Eggs

Days to hatch:

14-16 days from incubation

Fledge date:

21 days

Wean date:

 

First molt:

Complete after 3-4 months

Sexual maturity

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

Status in wild:

Masked – Low
White Eared – Rare

Lifespan:

7-8 years in Aviary environment 

Sexing:

Monomorphic

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