Finch keepers with a bit of room and some experience would do well to consider the gorgeous and plucky Cuban Finch, Tiaris canora. They can be challenging, but most agree that their gorgeous colors and vibrant spirits make efforts spent on their care worthwhile.
Although not commonly seen in pet stores in the USA, Cuban Finches are well established in private collections. The related Yellow-Faced Grassquit or Olive Finch, T. olivacea, is sometimes available from the breeders specializing in Cuban Finches.
Range and Habitat
Cuban Finches are native to Cuba and several nearby islands, where they favor brushy scrub, wooded grasslands, forest edges and farms. They also appear in Florida on occasion, most likely as strays.
The jet-black face and throat of the male, bordered by bright yellow, is striking. The rest of the plumage is olive-green. Females sport brown plumage in place of the males’ black, and have their own subtle beauty.
Brilliant colors, a bold demeanor, and constant activity often make the Cuban Finch appear larger than its 3.5- 4 inches.
Pairs form strong bonds, and will often attack other Cuban Finches and unrelated species (birds with even a small amount of yellow in the plumage are sure targets). Single males may be as aggressive, or more so, as a mated pair…in most cases a separate room is needed for each male if stress is to be avoided. Colonies are, however, sometimes possible to establish in large, densely planted aviaries.
Mated Cuban Finches sometimes exhibit perplexing behavior. Either sex may, for no apparent reason (to us, anyway!) destroy the nest or throw out specific chicks. Pairs that do so may go on to raise the next brood without event. An unseen stressor is likely at work, but in many cases even experienced keepers are at a loss to identify the problem.
Incubation, which lasts for 11-13 days, is carried out by the hen alone, but both parents feed the hatchlings. Inspecting the nest at this time will usually cause abandonment. The chicks fledge in 12-17 days, at which time the hen often re-nests while the male continues to feed the fledglings for up a month longer.
The adult plumage begins to appear at age 3 months or so. You must be careful to remove the youngsters before this time, as the first yellow feathers to appear may trigger a fatal attack by the formerly devoted male parent.
Sexual maturity is reached by 4 months of age, but hens should not be bred until they are 12 months or so old. Captive longevity averages 7 years.
High quality finch seed can form the basis of the diet, but variety is essential if Cuban Finches are to remain in good color, health and breeding condition. Fruit, greens, sprouts, egg food and small live or canned insects should be offered regularly. Insects are especially important during the breeding season and when chicks are being reared.
Video featuring several beautiful Cuban Finches
Natural History of the Cuban Finch and other unique animals of Cuba
Cuban Grassquit male image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Richard Taylor
Yellow-faced Grassquit male image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by TonyNorthrup