Painted Firetail - Emblema Picta

Painted Firetail – Emblema Picta

Other Names: Emblema, Painted Finch, Painted, Mountain Finch, Painted Firetail

Size: 11-12cm

Habitat: Spinifex covered, rocky landscapes are the Emblemas ideal habitat. This is very notcieable in their nesting techniques.

Distribution: They are distributed across Northern and Central Australia. From as far north as Derby with noted habitats in Dampier they extend fro this point through to Central West Queensland.

Food: Painteds are feed on seed mix comprising of Pannicum, millets, and canary seed. Lebanese cucumber is also recommended. Livefood can also be fed however they successfully breed without the presence of livefood. Clutches ranging between 4-5 young have been recorded.

Painted Firetail - Emblema Picta

Painted Firetail – Emblema Picta

Nesting: A very unique technique in nest making. Their nest’s consist of a few layers of different materials. The first layer being a base layer or platform of small stones, or any hard protection. I have noticed some nests including fairly thick pieces of branch or twigs in and amongst the stones. Once this base layer has been made the nest is made with grass, twigs, leaves and bark. The cock is very meticulous in his technique and you will find that if not all materials are available, the nest will fell and look incomplete leading to a low breeding profile.

Egg incubation – Carried out by both during the day with the hen roasting at night.
Inspections – Painted finch will accept nest inspections however be mindful that every inspection could lead to abandonement

Breeding: Due to their habitat the painteds breeding may not be as structured and scheduled as other finches. Their breeding will be spontaneous and dependent on what resources and food is available.

Sexing: The young are very similar in appearance to a mature hen. However their colours are somewhat faded or pure in colour. Sexing after 2-3 weeks out of the nest will become easier. you will notice the Cock develop the natural red on the breast and around the face and eyes. The Hen will not have as much red around the eye region. It almost stop just short of the irides and will mostly on be present in the face. A small section of red will be present on the breast with the more noticeable white spots covering the breast.

Mutations: Yellow Mutations – Scarlet is replaced by rich golden yellow
Fawn Mutations – Fawn upper parts with black being replaced by dark brown


After second egg has been laid

Average clutch:

3-6 Eggs

Days to hatch:

14-16 days from incubation

Fledge date:

Generally 21-23 days old

Wean date:


First molt:

Begins 4 weeks of age completing around 12 weeks.

Status in wild:



7-8 years in Aviary environment 



Article Extract from Marcus Pollard at Clifton Finch Aviaries

Commonly known as the Painted Firetail and star of the recent 45 cent stamp! One of my all time favourites. These were bred in the hundreds in my ‘neck of the woods’ until about 6 years ago when a number of breeders ‘gave them away’ when prices fell dramatically. They are a very different looking finch to the majority that we see in our aviaries. Their gaudy colours, fantastic disposition and friendly nature make them an ideal bird. The one serious problem that you face is that of livefood dependence. They will breed happily without livefood but will also consume plenty if it is offered. If you don’t have access to termites it is a pain to have to break them of this habit. You will get small clutches until you do but these youngsters should then produce ‘normal’ clutches without termites. This was the case in Tasmania a number of years ago where 3 pair would regularly give you 20-30 young in a season. We used to consider them the easiest finch to breed after zebras – but not any more!
They construct an elaborate nest platform and construct a nest that will consist of EVERYTHING that can be found in your aviary! Some will use nest boxes but the majority will construct their own nest. Despite their habit of nesting close to the ground in the wild I have never seen them do this in an aviary – unlike the Pictorella Mannikin. They are worth keeping just to watch the male do his ‘metronome dance’ where he whirrs like a clockwork toy. They are tolerant of other species and more than one pair may be kept in the same aviary. They don’t appear to have many preferences for food items and mine show little interest in supplements or soaked/sprouted seed. Will pick at chickweed and other greens. Spend a great deal of time on the ground so would be prone to worms and coccidia.
A popularity of 8 and a compatibility of 9.


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