The star finch is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

When I was holding some Melba finches, I was warned not to keep them with any of my Star finches due to their red face. The Melba males were aggressive birds that would attack other birds that it thought threatened its pairing with its mate. The Melbas have red faces as well. - Star Finch

Star finches should be left to build their own nests. Place some grass and seed in the nest; a Star finch can use this as the building block to create a nesting environment.

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The male star finch gives a short, high-pitched song in which a basic phrase is repeated over and over. The star finch’s song is not prominent, being audible only at short distances. This species also gives high-pitched calls which help to keep flocks together as they move around (2).

Adult plumage indicates maturity however not to be bred as per all finches until they reach the age of 12 months.

To maximise the chances of successful breeding, birds should be kept to only one mating pair per cage. Different breeding pairs can be placed back together once the breeding period is complete.

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Origin and phylogeny has been obtained by Antonio Arnaiz-Villena et al.[4] Estrildinae may have originated in India and dispersed thereafter (towards Africa and Pacific Ocean habitats).

With its attractive colouration, the star finch is popular as a cage bird, and trapping of this species has occurred in the past (3) (4) (5). However, the captive populations are not generally maintained for conservation purposes (5), and interbreeding is likely to have occurred between different subspecies (2). The introduction of the non-native red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and domestic cats has also been mildly detrimental to the star finch population (3).

Three subspecies of the star finch are currently recognised: Neochmia ruficauda ruficauda, Neochmia ruficauda clarescens and Neochmia ruficauda subclarescens. These three subspecies are very similar in appearance, but can be distinguished by a brighter olive-green base colour and yellowish tinge on the belly of N. r. subclarescens (4). The subspecies N. r. clarescens is more brownish-olive than N. r. ruficauda and has a more extensive red facial mask and a creamy-yellow belly (2).

Immature Star finches - 10 weeks (left), 7 weeks (right). See the mouth markings of nestling Stars

Looking to buy and breed Star finches? Learn more about breeding these wonderful birds in the guide below.

The star finch’s diet consists primarily of ripe or half-ripe seeds which it forages for in grass and shrubland. This is occasionally supplemented by insects and spiders (2) (3) (5). The star finch may either take seeds directly from the seed heads of grasses or other plants, or may forage for fallen seeds on the ground, particularly during the dry season when grasses have died back (2) (3) (4) (5). It has also been known to capture insects in flight (3).

 In order for a Star finch to breed successfully, you'll need to provide a comfortable nesting environment. Try and set up a nesting environment that's fairly enclosed, as these are the best conditions to encourage these birds to breed.

Approximate price: $50.00 pair, the price of the mutations, is governed by the availability of the type of mutation you are seeking.

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The parents will do very well on the standard diet noted above. They will take a bit more egg food during the brooding period. Many sources list that live food is necessary. I don't think mine even know what it is. All their needs can be met with the egg food. The young are weaned at about 14-21 days. They seem to take a little longer than some other Australian species and it's best to wait until you're sure they are on their own. Even when fostered under Society finches they are slow to wean.

The star finch (Neochmia ruficauda) is a species of estrildid finch found in Australia. It inhabits dry grassland and dry savannah habitats.

The star finch is a common aviary bird. This species has mutations such as the yellow and cinnamon varieties.[3]

Other proposed conservation measures for the star finch include further population monitoring, together with the management of important areas of habitat by preventing overgrazing and maintaining natural fire regimes. Further surveys are also needed to determine whether the subspecies N. r. ruficauda is now extinct (4).

Surveys of the subspecies N. r. clarescens have been carried out to estimate its population size and trend (4). A National Recovery Plan is in place for this subspecies and outlines a number of conservation actions to protect it, such as reducing grazing (5).

The star finch is endemic to Australia, with its populations inhabiting areas stretching across Western Australia and the Northern Territory (2) (4). The subspecies N. r. clarescens also occurs in the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland (2) (4) (5).

The young star finches leave the nest after about 17 days, but are fed by the adult birds for a further 2 or 3 weeks before they become independent (2) (3). The adults are then likely to lay a second clutch of eggs, whether or not the first is successful. The star finch can start breeding in its first year after hatching, and individuals may live for up to four to six years in the wild (3).

Inappropriate fire regimes are also detrimental to the star finch and its habitat, affecting food availability and potentially increasing the spread of invasive weeds and encroachment by woody plants (2) (4) (5). Sea level rise as a result of climate change may present an increasing threat to the star finch in future, as it could cause inundation of some of the coastal habitats on which this species depends (4) (5).

Repeat the point advice after chicks have been born - however, this time leave plenty of live insects and worms close by to allow the mother to nurse the Star finch chicks adequately.

Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Aves Order - Passeriformes Family - Estrildidae Genus - Neochmia

The habitat of the star finch is threatened by overgrazing of grasslands, removing essential cover for their survival as well as sources of food and water. Selective grazing of perennials during the wet season may also remove grasses that are needed for survival during the dry season. Burning of grassland during the dry season may reduce the fallen seed during the wet season and thus reduce the food supply needed by the star finch. This species is also threatened by the cage-bird trade.[2]

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Star finches are small greenish birds from the estrildid finch family, native to Northern Australia. These birds have become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to their attractive appearance and striking red head.

The star finch is likely to have benefitted in parts of its range from irrigation of croplands (2), but its overall population is believed to be declining (2) (4).

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Star Finch

N. r. ruficauda is found only in a tiny part of central Queensland, and also formerly occurred in northern New South Wales (2) (3), but this subspecies may possibly now be extinct (4).

Being classed as a ‘grassfinch’ (a type of finch in the Estrildidae family) gives a clue to this species’ preferred habitats. The star finch primarily inhabits short, dense, moist grasslands or reeds that border freshwater bodies (2) (3) (4) (5), but it can also be found living in savannah-type sclerophyll woodland (4). This species has sometimes been recorded in towns and along roadsides (3) (4).

Find out more about the star finch and its conservation:

The female star finch resembles the male, but has slightly duller plumage and a smaller red facial mask (2) (5). Both sexes have yellowish-brown legs and feet (2) (3). Juvenile star finches only develop the red face mask and olive-green colouring when they are about five to eight months old (3), being plain brown with a black bill prior to this (2) (3) (4) (5).

Description Males are easily distinguished from hens by their larger face mask. The males also have a song that they will sing while stretching their neck and fluffing their head feathers, often while carrying a long piece of nesting material (MP3 of the male's song).

Surveys for the rare subspecies N. r. ruficauda took place in the 1990s, but failed to locate any remaining individuals. This subspecies is listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which provides a framework for the protection of Australian species. It is not known whether any captive star finches belong to this particular subspecies, and any remaining wild individuals need to be located before further action can be taken to protect them (3).

Once breeding starts, it's best to stay clear of the nest as your intervention could disrupt the breeding process. Try and ensure plenty of bird seed and water is available during this time - but don't tamper with the nest.