(by Eric Callaghan)
Thank you for your kind words, although I must confess that I don't really deserve
them insofar as I keep other birds in addition to rosefinches. I don't have the
self-restraint to specialise to the
degree that would be best.
In general, I have not found the rosefinches to be particularly aggressive, even when
breeding, although so far I can only speak for Pallas' (Carpodacus roseus), 3-barred (C.
trifasciatus) and dark (C. nipalensis). In all cases I have kept them with other species
without any problems. The cock Pallas' chased others a little when coming into condition,
but nothing serious.
Perhaps I should start off by giving my opinions of the positive and negative
attributes of the group as aviary birds.
On the positive side, I have found all the species I have kept to be robust birds, easy to
care for and feeding on any good canary seed mixture. None appear to have any interest in
livefood, although they enjoy greenfood, especially seeding weeds. As one might expect
are winter-hardy in this part of the world. As I mentioned above, I have had no problems
regarding aggression towards other species, but I have never kept more than one pair of
rosefinches in an aviary, nor have any of their companions had red in the plumage, which
might cause problems. Although they may take a couple of years to settle down, the three
species mentioned above have all attempted to nest eventually. The other species I have,
Greater (C. rubicilloides), Blandford's (C. rubescens) and Long-tailed (Uragus sibiricus),
I only obtained last year, so they are not yet settled. Incidentally, one bonus is that
the birds are not at all shy when nesting and will build readily even when one is standing
On the negative side, perhaps the greatest drawback for some would be the fact that all
the males fade badly when moulting, in common with many other species that have red in the
plumage. To some extent this can be remedied by the addition of carophyll red to the
drinking water, although the result is never quite the same as the original. Incidentally,
I have never found any problem in persuading the birds to take this, even in an aviary
with bathing facilities available. They seem to quickly acquire a taste for the treated
water. A second problem is that the males do not acquire adult plumage until a year old.
As a result, many "hens" eventually turn out to be immature
cocks. Although the birds will nest fairly readily, rearing the young is not so easy. In
addition to this I have found that Pallas' and The dark rosefinch are strictly
single-brooded and do not nest a second time, even if the first nest should fail. Only the
3-banded has been multi-brooded with me. It turns out that only this species (and the
Common (C. erythrinus), which I no longer have) has successfully reared young for me. I
have offered all food that I can think of but the young of the
others have never lasted for more than two days. I have successfully fostered Pallas'
young under the Common and under canaries. I intend to try fostering any young dark
rosefinches under canaries this season.
None of the species can be said to have
anything resembling a pleasant song. The nearest to this is the Common Rosefinch, which
also sings at night.
I hope these ramblings will be of some use.
If you want further clarification on anything, let me know. I can give you more detail
about the individual species later, if you are interested. I don't
want to swamp you with rosefinch information!
Incidentally, regarding the himalayan greenfinches, I find that they are strange birds.
Most of mine are now home-bred and some years they never attempt to nest at all. Other
years they may fail to rear their young, whereas again they may rear a brood under exactly
the same conditions.
My Recent Trip to Ecuador
On my recent trip to Ecuador I joined
Biologist Orfa Rodriguez from the University of Quito, Kate LaRiche student of Ecology
from Cleveland, Ohio and Will Bergren from San Francisco, California on an
expedition. The project was to determine the success of the " Use of Box
Nests in a Disturbed part of Forest" in the Bellavista Reserve to the Northwest
I also travelled south to Guayaquil with Juan
Carlos to try my luck at locating the rare Saffron Siskins at the Cerro Blanco Forest
Reserve. This rare bird inhabits semi-arid scrub and dry deciduous forest of up to 800m,
but little is known about its ecology. We spent two days at the Park Rangers Cabin up in
the Chongon Hills, but no luck this time.
The view of the Valley of Mist from the
Juan-Carlos from Quito at the Tinalandra
The view from Niels Krabbes cabin up in the
Hummingbird-1 ( ? )
Hummingbird-2 ( ? )
Orfa Rodriguez up on the ladder and Kate
Totally new meaning to the phrase
"Early bird catches a worm"
Will Bergren at the nest-box
The Park Ranger,ornithologist Juan Carlos and myself heading for the Chongon Hills
in search of the rare Saffron Siskins
This one year old tame male Bengal pussy cat was donated to the Cerro Blanco forest
reserve. He is looking for a mate. If you have a spare female or two do not contact me,
contact the forest reserve Director
Mr.Eric Horstman E-mail
Two and a half hours walk to the Rangers cabin
There is never a shortage of fruit in Ecuador
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