Star Finch - Neochmia ruficauda

Star Finch – Neochmia ruficauda

Other Names: Red-faced Star Finch, Red-faced Grassfinch, Star Finch

Size: 10cm

Sub-species: Neochmia ruficauda ruficauda (Nominate form),  Neochmia ruficauda clarescens (Most common form kept in Australian aviculture)

Habitat: Always lives near water in areas of tall grasses, bushes, and small tress. (Not known to live on dry plains).

Distribution: Northern Australia from Cape York Peninsular in Northern Queensland and across the top end of Australia and down into the western coast of Western Australia as far a Port Headland and the Hamersley Ranges.

Food: Fresh grass seed can be fed daily in the breeding season with other green feed can consist of Lebanese cucumber, chickweed, endive and boc-choy.
You can expect better breeding results if fresh seeding grasses are fed during the breeding season.

Star Finch - Neochmia ruficauda

Star Finch – Neochmia ruficauda

Nesting: Stars prefer their own nest’s to nest boxes. I have had most of my success in smaller aviaries by providing wire nests and wicker baskets. Mostly all the nest materials are gathered by the male. These materials include, November grass, coarse grass, Couch grass runners,  and feather being used for the interior. The female is the one who sits in the nest and weaves the provided grasses. Plenty of nesting material should be offered, if insufficient materials are supplied they will search and take necessary materials from other nests.

Egg incubation: Incubation by hen at night with both parents sharing responsibilities during the day
Inspections: Intolerance towards nest inspections.

Breeding: Stars can be kept as a colony or in single pairs.The bond between the pair is very tights. Breeding can occur throughout the year with successful fledging of young dependant on the conditions and food provided. Do not interfere with the net during breeding, they are very cautious during this period and will abandon on the slightest bit of of unwanted attention. The breeding season is during the warmer periods of the year. (Spring and Summer). They will continue to breed unless limited. Stars will do well in small to large aviaries from about 3m on and will do much better in larger aviaries with live plants.

Sexing: Sexing is reasonably easy with the female being duller in colour to the male. Less crimson on the face and a smaller mask is also present in females.


The Neochmia genus comprises of:
1. The Crimson finch Neochmia Phaeton
2. The Red browed finch Neochmia teporalis 
3. The Star finch Neochmia ruficauda 
4. The Plum headed finch Neochmia modesta 


After third egg has been laid

Average clutch:

3-6 Eggs

Days to hatch:

12-14 days from incubation

Fledge date:

Generally 15-17 days old

Wean date:

6 weeks

First molt:

Age between 4 to 6 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:

Least Concern


7-8 years in Aviary environment


Article Extract from Marcus Pollard at Clifton Finch Aviaries

This finch was one of the commonest finches in our aviaries until recently. Vast numbers were legally trapped and these produced countless numbers of young in our aviaries. Whether because of a drop in popularity or a drop in breeding, there does not appear to be as many about as in the late 1980’s. This finch has always been a source of some confusion to me. They either breed like there is no tomorrow or they simply sit there and do nothing! I obtained 5 uncoloured birds that turned out to be 2 males and 3 females that subsequently reared 17 young. All 3 of the females raised young. For the next 2 years the birds did not breed. The year after this they reared some 20 young again!

Requirements for these are, once again, fairly basic. They show little interest in live food and love soaked/sprouted seed and green seeding grasses. The nest is usually not very elaborate and resembles a pile of grass and white feathers thrown into a nesting receptacle! I have no evidence that they will use nest boxes. I have never witnessed aggression amongst these finches and they are safe with smaller waxbills. For some reason they appear to attract the attention of longtails and, if you have a desertion problem, it could be due to the longtails pilfering bits from the stars nest.

The commonest form is the red headed star and the yellow headed star. There are a host of mutations available that are faded imitations of the ‘real’ birds. The red headed star comes in 3 types: the Queensland race which has very little colour and is often difficult to sex; the normal red form (that is common in most of our aviaries) and the Kimberley star that is stunning – the dullest hen is 2x the colour of the brightest male normal red star.

A popularity of 7 and a compatibility of 10.


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