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.
Cuban Finches will not tolerate crowding, and must be provided with plenty of room to move about. A large flight cage is a must, and they really come into their own in a planted outdoor aviary.
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
Very helpfull thank you
Thanks for the kind words, Best, Frank
I had read your article about cubans and also other articles and i was very scared of releasing my pairs of cubans into my mixed finch aviary due to how aggressive the readings i found made them sound. However i took the risk and put them in the aviary.. its been two months now.. they readily adapted to their new surroundings.. like the articles say they really come to themselves in large planted aviaries (like mine 4 metres by 1.2 wide by 2.2 high with 2 ficus trees of 2 metres in height) and they readily set up nest and are currently sitting on eggs.
Im very glad to say they show ZERO aggression to other finches. I have the shaft tails occasioanly perching on top of the cubans nest with no reaction at all from the cubans. I hope they remain this way as they are possibly one of my favourite finches in the aviary if not the favourite.
Ive limited the nest checks to one time to see if they actually laid and havent checked again so i have no idea how many eggs they have.. i have to enter the aviary to feed them and the female immediately leaves the nest when i do so but re enters the nest right after i leave the aviary when im done from feeding.
Looking forward to mid august now to see if i hear some chirping coming from babies 🙂
Thanks very much for your observations..great to have on hand. Sounds like a wonderful set-up; I’m sure the size and plantings are are key factor in your success. Please keep me posted..enjoy and good luck, Frank
hi, interesting post , the second pics is actually a different species http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-faced_grassquit
Wondering if this other can be breed in captivity.
Yes, the Yellow-faced is mentioned in the 1st paragraph and noted in the photo credits below; i’ll go back and make a specific ref to the photo, which would be clearer.
I’ve only seen them in offered in the USA on rare occasions, but have not checked recently.