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Strawberry Finches, also known as the Red Avadavat, are perhaps the most popular of all the waxbills! The word “strawberry” suits these little birds because of the beautiful, strawberry like coloration of the male during breeding season.
The Strawberry Finches are petite little birds and as beautiful as they are charming. They are excellent at breeding in an aviary and make a good species for the beginner. They are reasonably hardy, but if kept in an outdoor aviary they will need a warmed shelter in the winter.
For more information about the care of Finches see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Finch
Scientific name: Amandava amandava Learn more about the Strawberry “Family”, the Estrildidae Finches here: Finch Families
Description: Strawberry Finches are slightly less than 4″ (10 cm). The beak, as in most waxbills, is red. These are the only waxbill where the male goes out of color when not breeding. The males breeding colors consist of a head, back and wings that are very dark red-brown and the tail is black. The rest of the body is bright red and well spotted with white. The male’s out of season colors are very similar to the female. They are brown on top with darker wings and yellow buff underneath. The rump and upper tail are dark red. The female also has a few white spots on the wings. In captivity, the males have a tendency for the brightness of it’s breeding coloration to progressively lessen with each molt.
Care and Feeding: Fresh food and water must be provided daily. A good finch seed mix will provide their everyday preference for white and yellow millets and canary seed and is readily available at a pet store. In a separate cup supply green foods regularly, such as lettuce, spinach, celery tops, and chickweed. They also enjoy sprouted canary seed. Other supplements include green seed, mealworms, aphids, papae, and daphnia. Finch treats of seed with honey, fruits and vegetables are fun for your bird too, as well as nutritious!
Grit with charcoal is essential to aid in digestion and it contains valuable minerals and trace elements. Grit should be provided in a special cup or sprinkled over the bottom of the cage floor. Provide a cuttlebone because the calcium it provides will give your bird a firm beak, strong eggshells when breeding, and will prevent egg binding. The lime in the cuttlebone also aids in digestion.
Offer your finch a bath occasionally by providing a bath dish that is 1″ deep with a 1/2″ of water, or a clip on bath house.
Their nails may occasionally need to be trimmed, but be careful never to clip into the vein as the bird can quickly bleed to death. Bird nail trimmers and styptic powder to stop the bleeding are available at pet shops.
Housing: Strawberry Finches do well indoors in a cage, but will need to be in an aviary if you wish them to rear young. Place the cage where it is well ventilated though free from drafts, and against a wall at eye level. It should have good light but be away from doors and windows where direct exposure to sunlight can make it overly warm.
Provide two or three good softwood perches about 3/8″ to 3/4″ in diameter. Tree branches of a similar size also make good perches and will help to wear the claws down naturally. Provide separate dishes for food, water, treats, and grit. Place paper on the cage bottom that can be sprinkled with grit, or use a grit paper.
Strawberry Finches also do very well in aviaries or bird rooms. The screening should be 3/8″ square mesh. Dishes for food, water, grit and bathing water must be included along with perches and a wide variety of nests. Leafy branches, tall grasses and reeds, and dense bushes will make the space more enjoyable for the finches as well as providing nesting materials.
Maintenance: Although finches require very little time, a clean environment as well as fresh food and water daily is a must to prevent disease and illness. The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Every two to three days change the paper on the bottom of the cage and sprinkle it with about 1/8″ of fresh grit. Weekly wash and dry the entire cage, including the perches.
Handling/Training: Finches are simply enjoyed for their antics and play rather than training. When you need to handle your finch to examine it or clip it’s nails, place your palm on it’s back and wrap your fingers around the bird with your thumb and forefinger on either side of it’s head.
Strawbery Finches are willing breeders in an aviary, but not in a cage.They are easy to sex when the male is in breeding coloration and the male has a pleasant song. Provide them with a wide variety of nest boxes and finch nests and let them choose, as what they like often varies. They need nesting materials such as grass stalks, hay, and coconut fiber and will line the nest with soft materials such as moss and feathers.
The female will lay a clutch of 4 to 7 eggs. When rearing their young they like live small insects, such as ant and mesquito larvae, daphnia, and also green seeds. Strawberry Finches will often keep breeding to exhaustion, so you should pull the nests for the season after the third clutch.
Potential Problems: Strawberry Finches are fairly hardy birds and almost all illnesses can be traced to improper diet, dirty cages, and drafts. A balanced diet and plenty of exercise will prevent most illnesses. Know your birds and watch for real drastic changes as indications of illness.
Some signs of illness to be aware of are droppings that are not black and white, feathers that are ruffled, lack of appetite, wheezing, and acts feeble and run down.
Some of the common illnesses and injuries your finch could contract are broken wings or legs, cuts and open wounds, overgrown beaks and nails, ingrown feathers, feather picking, confinement cramps in the legs from a cage that is too small, weight loss, heat stroke, shock, concussion, egg binding, diarrhea, mites, colds, baldness, scaly legs, sore eyes, tumors, constipation, and diarrhea.
First you can try and isolate the bird in a hospital cage where you cover all but the front of the cage and add a light bulb or heating pad to keep the interior of the cage at a constant temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove all perches and put food and water dishes on the floor. If you don’t see improvements within a few hours, take the bird to an avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.