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An Overview of Less Commonly-Kept Cage and Aviary Birds – Part 2

Click here: An Overview of Less Commonly-Kept Cage and Aviary Birds – Part 1 to read part 1.

Japanese Hawfinch or Grosbeak, Euphona personata
Japanese HawFinchIf the Latin species’ name – “personata” is meant to hint at this bird’s characteristics, then it is indeed aptly chosen.  I’ve only cared for several in my time, but all were strikingly alert and curious, and I am told the same by colleagues.

Japanese hawfinches are not common in the trade, but well worth the effort of finding.  Stocky in build and 8 inches long, they are quite hefty for seed-eaters, and sport a thick, yellow bill to match.  They are superbly clad in various shades of tan and brown, with jet-black heads and throats and blue-gray collars.  Ranging from central Asia through Japan, hawfinches are quite cold-tolerant and can even winter outdoors in most of the USA.  Normal room temperatures suit them well.

Japanese hawfinches should be fed a finch seed mix along with some kale, romaine and other greens.  Their bill size indicates a need for larger seeds as well, and so a small amount of hemp and sunflower should be mixed in with the finch seed.  Hawfinches also appreciate crickets, mealworms and wild-caught insects from time to time.


Bananaquit, Coereba flaveola

Native to Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America, in times past these tiny (4.5 inch) fellows were often the aviculturist’s introduction to “offbeat” birds.  Black above and with a yellow breast, bananaquits are always on the move, searching every nook and cranny of their homes for insects.  Those I have cared for and observed in the wild were unfailingly curious – to the point of being trusting once acclimated to cage life.

Despite their small size, bananquits should be give as large a cage as is possible, and will really entertain you if housed in an outdoor aviary.  Flowering plants and strategically placed fruit will attract insects into the aviary, and the birds will delight you with their hunting skills.  They truly do seem to do best when kept occupied by foraging.

Bananquits may be fed as has been described for the golden-fronted leafbird, but require more insects.  Nectar should be given only 2-3 times per week – if offered on a daily basis, they may consume it to the exclusion of all else, and develop nutritional deficiencies as a result.  Bananquits benefit from a diet composed of a variety of insects – an insect trap, such as the Zoo Med Bug Napper, is a valuable asset to maintaining these beautiful, entertaining birds in top condition. Image by Leon Bojarczuk, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bananaquits.jpg


Interesting notes from Malaysia on the captive care of golden-fronted leafbirds, as well as photos, are posted at:

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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