Wild Zebra Finches at Dunlop??

Subject: Wild Zebra Finches at Dunlop??
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005 12:59:02 +1100
A quick comment on Diamond firetails. I am pretty sure if you look in one of 
the ACT bird books, perhaps the COG Atlas, you will find that Diamonds breed 
almost all year round with a slight peak in Feb- April. I also thought that 
Diamonds don't build roosting nests, but will have to check that. The bird we 
saw when we were looking at the zebra finches looked like a subadult male to me 
(based on beak colour and flank spots), suggesting recent breeding.

On zebra finches, again for fear of boring people I didn't go into detail.
There were really two issues on predator avoidance, one was 'where the birds 
sit under normal non-predator conditions' and two of the birds sat low down in 
hawthorn while the other did not. The other was a 'reaction to predators' and 
when the sparrowhawk flew by two of the finches flew 'down' into the hawthorn. 
Most captive birds react to predators, but many do not act appropriately. 
Captive birds I have seen escape in the wild tend to panic and fly in multiple 
directions, or horizontally and aim for trees, and be killed, rather than 
dropping into the nearest dense bush. Some do not react at all, like the blue 
opaline redrump. These are all generalisations, but out of 3 birds I would 
reckon 1 or 2 would not have good avoidance behaviour if only recently escaped.

I was a finch judge and am well aware of the mutations in zebra finches, having 
kept almost all. One day, I tried counting all potentially 'observable' 
combinations of mutations and gave up at about 240. 
The probability of randomly picking 3 pure grey zebra finches in a pet finch 
keepers aviary is extremely low, you can test this by looking in any pet shop, 
pet birds usually have obvious base colour mutations (fawn, white, dilute). If 
they are grey they usually have pied feathers, but may have numerous other 
mutations which are rarer and COG members are unlikely to recognise.
As all three appeared pure grey this reduces greatly the chance they would be 
pet birds.

There are possibly less than ten breeders in ACT who breed pure grey zebra 
finches that I know of. People who are 'that into' zebra finches are most 
likely to be show breeders. Show breeders breed to a 'type' and these birds 
were not good type. So Philip, by deduction it is unlikely the birds are ex 
captives they are more likely wild birds. 
Most pet birds these days have reasonable 'type', from being cross bred with 
show birds.


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