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Joining together individuals who share a common interest in breeding Carduelan species in captivity

Updated Saturday, 19 January 2008

These pages are devoted to your questions and answers on bird problems.

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(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 they
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 nearby. 

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 of  Pichincha.

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.

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The view of the Valley of Mist from the Bellavista Lodge

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Juan-Carlos from Quito at the Tinalandra Lodge

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The view from Niels Krabbes cabin up in the cloud forest

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Hummingbird-1 ( ? )

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Hummingbird-2 ( ? )

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Orfa Rodriguez up on the ladder and Kate LaRiche

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Totally new meaning to the phrase "Early bird catches a worm"

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Will Bergren at the nest-box

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Orfa Rodriguez

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The Park Ranger,ornithologist Juan Carlos and myself heading for the Chongon Hills
in search of the rare Saffron Siskins

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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
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Two and a half hours walk to the Rangers cabin

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There is never a shortage of fruit in Ecuador

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