Red-eared Parrotfinches or Coloria Parrot Finches (Erythrura coloria) are very unobtrusive finches that are endemic to Mindanao in the Philippines.
They inhabit the forest edge, as well as second growth and grassy clearings at altitude over 1,000 m.
Because of their mostly green plumage, they blend in well in their environment and are usually only detected because of their high-pitched call.
The status of the species is evaluated as “Near Threatened” because of its limited range. At this point in time, little is known about the population size and threats to this species.
Size: The Red-eared Parrotfinch is a small, slim, short-tailed bird with long legs. It averages 4 inches or 10 cm in length.
Plumage: The plumage is mostly green. The facemask is cobalt-blue bordered with a crescent shaped red/orange collar at each side of the neck. The rump and upper tail coverts are red.
Legs and feet are flesh color … Eyes are dark brown … Beak is black.
Females: The plumage of hens is slightly paler in color and the red collar bands are smaller. The plumage tends to darken with age and distinguishing between sexes can grow increasingly challenging as they age.
Mutation: A sea-green mutation has been developed in aviculture (the Sea Green Coloria Parrot Finch)
This species is a rare find and are, therefore, not fully established in captivity. One major problem to overcome is that many hybrids are being sold as pure-breds. Caution is advised.
These finches can be bred in cages or aviaries – although roomy, well-planted aviaries with winter shelters (in colder climates) are recommended. If kept indoors, an attractive flight cage with natural branches and maybe some plants would suffice.
These finches will accept half-open nest boxes in which they construct their nest with coco fiber and grass stems. The nest is usually not lined.
They generally produce 3 clutches a year consisting of 2 to 3 eggs that are incubated for 12 to 13 days.
Both parents share the incubation duties, which they do with tremendous dedication. The young fledge when they are about 21 to 23 days old and are fully independent 2 to 3 weeks later.
The young mature quickly – being sexually mature at 5 months. However, it is recommended to wait until they are about 12 months old before setting them up for breeding.
Coloria Parrot Finches tend to be good parents. Occasionally, breeders will use Society / Bengalese Finches as foster parents.
Personality / Behavior
They have a very friendly and inquisitive personality, and grow quite confiding with their caretakers, greeting them enthusiastically at the aviary door as they come in to tend to the flock.
These finches love water. One can frequently see them jump in and out of their bathing dishes. Bathing will take place a couple of times a day, summer or winter – and are an important part of their daily grooming.
Another characteristic of the parrotfinches is their almost semi-nocturnal nature. They are always last to roost at night, and can be seen still on the food station or darting around the aviary after dark. They are also the first to stir in the morning.
This breed is vivacious, very energetic, and always on the move. They are very gentle, which makes them an ideal choice for a mixed, large and well-planted aviary. They need plenty of flight space. A good aviary dimension would be 8ft. long x 7ft. wide. However, an aviary can never be too big for these active finches.
This tropical species needs to be protected from the elements. During the winter months, they need to have access to a heated shelter. The outside flight needs to have some draft protection.
One way would be to install slotted tracking on the sides of the aviary that will allow you to slide in either Perspex or Polycarb sheets during the winter months to keep out chilly winds and help to keep heat in.
Alternatively, such panels can be hung up along the sides – as long as they are firmly installed.
It is recommended to provide some cover within the aviary, which can be achieved by planting bushes suitable to your area, or alternatively putting up appropriate brush, which even when dry seems to provide cover adequate for their needs.
Over time the breed has adapted well to cooler climates. However, when purchasing birds from a breeder find out whether the breeder uses artificial heating sources. It takes time for birds to acclimatize to your local temperature and conditions.
The pair bonding of the adult birds is very strong, and in the aviary they are seldom seen apart. However, should either one die, a new partner should be introduced as soon as possible.
It is always advisable to have more hens in your colony than male birds, as it minimizes the potential conflict between males. Having said all that, give them food, water, and nesting material, and they are likely to thrive and breed.
If within your aviary, you have the facility to grow a seeding grass, then you are guaranteeing yourself a happy flock of parrot finches.
Captive parrotfinches readily accept a wide range of nesting accommodation, from a standard “gouldian” or “budgerigar” nesting box, to a wicker or cane elongated tube.
The nest box should be situated as high in the aviary as possible, although they are willing to settle for a nest box at lower levels.
They tend to be excellent parents – however, it is characteristic of this breed that parents may set up a new nest, and be sitting on a new brood prior to the fledging of the last.
The hen seems to be the primary nest builder. Her preferred nesting material includes well-dried pampas grass, soft well-dried grass or teased strands of hessian, cut to manageable lengths.
Fertility rates may be influenced by diet climatic conditions or the individual pair. Both parents share the incubation duties, which takes about twelve to thirteen days.
Parrot Finches are generally tolerant to nest inspection. Should you find a chick or chicks with a skin color that is darker than you would normally expect, this may be indicative of dehydration.
One cause could be lack of green food or live food, such as mealworms or maggots – or lack of bathing opportunities for the parents.
The young usually fledge at 21 days. It is within this first week that the fledgling start to take on the distinctive color of the breed.
Marker rings should be put on the fledglings when they are about 4 weeks old. Marker rings are an important tool for keeping track of them and for record-keeping purposes.
A good-quality seed mix should be provided, as well as soaked / sprouted seeds, seeding grasses, various greens and live food – especially during the breeding season. They readily accept fresh fruits / veggies a lot, and greens such as parsley and dandelions.
You can get a lot of free “green stuff” (safe, untreated plants please!) from your own garden to feed to them with.
While raising young, breeders often offer additional food items to the parents, such as hard-boiled eggs (potentially enriched with vitamins and minerals – if the diet is less than balanced), as well as sprouted seeds, and mealworms.
The fledglings readily accept live food, such as mealworms. They will take literally any size worm, and if too big to take at once, they will suck the pulp out of the worm.
Green food, on the other hand, takes them about two weeks before they accept it.
But once they have gotten used to live food, their appetite is fairly insatiable. Sprouted seed are readily accepted by birds and are highly nutritious. They make an excellent weaning food..
As with all other breeds, fresh water should be available at all times.
Specific Health Concerns:
As these finches spend a lot of time foraging on the ground, breeders can expect to have to deal with a worm burden.
Some breeders suggest that these finches do not respond well to worming, while others suggest the following protocol: “Mix 80 mils of water, 1.5 mils of Avitrol Plus, 2.0 mils of strawberry topping. The strawberry topping seems to make it more palatable without affecting the efficacy of product. Use your own judgment on whether or how often to administer.
In most cases, 3 or 4 times a year seems appropriate, particularly if you are feeding live food. “
Whether or not such a routine is advisable for your own birds should be discussed with your vet.