Bicheno Finch

Bicheno FinchBicheno Finch

The Bicheno Finch originates from Northern and Eastern regions of Australia. It is also known as an Owl Finch or Double Barred Finch. The Bicheno is one of the smallest Australian finches being approximately 4 inches in size. It is an attractive, distinctively marked bird. The average lifespan is 5 – 7 years.

Knowledge and Care Needed

They need a bit more looking after than the Hecks Grassfinch, and are suited to more experienced bird keepers. They need extra heat in colder conditions, probably on similar lines to keeping Gouldians, as they also need extra warmth and extra care than just the basics and you will need more awareness for potential problems when breeding so, it would be an ideal Finch to move onto after you have started out and gained experience and knowledge with Bengalese or Hecks.

Diet

Diet consists of foreign finch seed mix. They readily take egg-food ( which could be mixed with cous cous ). They tend to not eat many greens. Occasionally a spray of millet. Always supply cuttlefish bone and oyster shell grit.

Courtship display

Having observed the cock bird displaying to the hen. He held a piece of coconut fibre in his beak and jumped up and down many times, both feet leaving the floor. They often do a lot of wiping their beak on the perch then sing turned towards the hen.

Housing

Can be housed in cages or indoor flights. During Summer they may have access to an aviary.During frosty conditions heating is required for the Bird-room and they should not be exposed to cold, draughty, wet conditions.

Compatibility

The Bicheno is a social, peaceful bird.   It is compatible with other similar natured finches eg. Star finches, Cherry finches, Bengalese, Gouldians etc.

Sexing

Can sometimes be difficult to sex visually.   Hens tend to have slightly narrower breast bands and a more of a creamy colour than white on the face compared to the cock.   Cocks seem to have wider black feathering above the beak.   If in doubt go by the cocks’ song.

Breeding

I prefer to have them breeding during December – March.  Prior to breeding I feed them egg-food mixed with cous cous. Provide them with a finch nest box or domed nest basket with coconut fibre as nest material.

Normally 4 – 6 eggs in a clutch.

Nesting Materials

I put some jute nesting material inside the nest basket before putting the nest in indoor flight /cage, then put the coconut fibre on the floor The birds then weave the coconut fibre round and round, lining the Nest basket. Try to put the nest in high position and away from the cage front for more privacy.

Incubation

They do not incubate the eggs until the 3rd or 4th egg is laid.   Both parents incubate the eggs, taking turns or both occupying the nest together.   Incubation 12 – 14 days

Feeding Parents to feed chicks

Provide egg-food or egg-food mixed with cous cous and mini meal worms.  At 9 – 10 days of age the parents no longer brood the chicks during the day.

Peculiarities / Observations

They do not particularly tolerate nest checks.   Sometimes foster parents are required,   ideally Bengalese finches.   In some cases the Bichenos fail to rear their young. I experienced my Bichenos successfully feeding 3 chicks for 2 weeks then to my dismay on entering the bird-room one day I found all 3 chicks dead on the floor of the aviary flight.   My guess is that they threw the young from the nest to concentrate on incubating further eggs, which had been laid.

Fledging

The young normally fledge between 22 – 26 days of age.   I continue with providing Egg Food with cous cous,slowly reducing the amount I also offer spray millet and foreign finch seed mix.

Weaning the Chicks

As the hen could run into difficulties with egg binding if not fully matured.

Providing they are feeding themselves efficiently, they can be removed from their parents at 5 – 6 weeks of age.  Bicheno’s can breed from the age of 9 months