Finches and softbills may be found in every color imaginable, but birds with black plumage are very scarce in the trade. One exception is the aptly named Blue-Black Grassquit or Jacarina Finch (Volatinia jacarina). Not a finch at all, this gorgeous little bird sports deep blue-black feathers that are highlighted with purple – always striking, but especially so when housed with brightly-colored species.
The Jacarina Finch is actually classified as a Tanager (Family Thraupidae) and is more closely related to the brilliant Brazilian Tanager (please see photo) than to any of the common pet trade finches. It is, however, finch-like in its behavior and captive needs, and gets along well with most species.
The Jacarina Finches’ huge range extends from southern Mexico south through Central America to northern Chile and east to eastern Brazil. They are birds of brushy, fairly open habitats, and may be found in overgrown fields, lightly wooded grasslands, parks and village gardens. Wherever they occur, the males are well-known by local people for their unique hopping, quivering mating display.
Jacarina Finches make fine captives and are regularly bred in European collections and, to a lesser extent, in the USA. Despite topping out at a mere 4.5 inches in length, they are best kept in large indoor flight cages or outdoor aviaries – active and shy, they fare poorly when crowded.
Insects and other invertebrates are essential if you want to keep your birds in peak color, and indispensible for pairs with chicks. The Zoo Med Bug Napper and canned invertebrates are of great value in this regard.
Some ornithologists believe that this may be the bird that crossed to the Galapagos Islands and gave rise to the many species that spurred Darwin’s thoughts on evolution; read more here.
Videos of displaying male Jacarina Finches.
Jacarina images referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Dario Sanches