Finch Courtship Display

Subject: Finch Courtship Display
From: Gerry Hopkins <>
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 18:52:14 +1000
G'Day All,

About 12 years ago I first witnessed this interesting courtship display
of star finches (a pair given as a gift by my young son,because Mum
liked birds). As I was not partial to keeping birds in cages, but didn't
wish to hurt my sons feelings, I did as much research as I could, from
all my  'bird books', as to the habitat and foods etc these birds needed
in the wild.

I then acquired a small avery and set it up to simulate the birds
habitat, even to getting Gerry to make a heat box to keep the birds warm
in winter.

I supplied the finches with long stalks of unripe green grasses to see
if this would stimulate their breeding urge as it does in the wild. As
the avery was just outside the sitting-room window I was able to observe
these birds everyday without disturbing them. Firstly the female would
select a grass stem to her liking nipping it from the large clump and
always clasping by the very end would fly up and over the male draping
the grass stem across him several times, by which time she had got his
attention, she would pass him the stem which he would manoeuvre to the
very end in his beak and proceed to fly several times around his mate
before perching beside her and do his little bobbing dance.

He would then pass the stem back to her and she would allow him to mate.
They would both collect grass to build their nest, but as soon as she
had laid her eggs and started to sit,  the male  would continue to bring
her nesting material passing it to her for approval before continuing to
build the nest. This pair raised several families.

I have also kept red-browed firetails and witnessed the bobbing
courtship dance, but they are very hard to tell apart so I really don't
know which bird actually starts the courtship. So wild or caged these
little birds have this inbuilt need to dance.


Lauris Hopkins

Gerry Hopkins MMR
Editor "Main Line" NMRA - Australasian Region          (updated 14/05/97)

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