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What Is a Parrot Finch?
Parrot Finches are a group of Estrildid finches belonging to the genus Erythrura. They are found in Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Northern Australia and many islands scattered throughout the South Pacific.
There are 12 species of Parrot Finches:
* Tawny-breasted Parrot Finch or Green-tailed Parrot Finch, Erythrura hyperythra * Pin-tailed Parrot Finch, Erythrura prasina * Green-faced Parrot Finch, Erythrura viridifacies * Tricolored Parrot Finch or Three-coloured Parrot Finch, Erythrura tricolor * Blue-faced Parrot Finch, Erythrura trichroa * Red-eared Parrot Finch or Mount Katanglad Parrot Finch, Erythrura coloria * Papuan Parrot Finch, Erythrura papuana * Red-throated Parrot Finch, Erythrura psittacea * Red-headed Parrot Finch, Erythrura cyaneovirens * Fiji Parrot Finch, Erythrura (cyaneovirens) pealii * Royal Parrot Finch, Erythrura (cyaneovirens) regia * Pink-billed Parrot Finch, Erythrura kleinschmidti .
Of these species, only a few are secure in their status in the wild. These include the Red-throated Parrot Finch, which is protected on its native island of New Caledonia and the Blue-faced Parrot Finch, which has a very wide geographical distribution across much of Australasia.
Threats to Parrot Finches in the Wild:
Many species and subspecies are isolated to only one island. The Pink-billed Parrot Finch is found along only a few heavily forested rivers in Fiji. Numerous expeditions were sent to locate the birds over the last several decades, with no success. It was feared they may already be extinct. However, recent sightings of this species attest to the bird's continued, yet tenuous existence.
Many face threats, such as environmental destruction or competition from introduced species or rodents. The isolated island populations of many species make them particularly prone to extinction.
Parrot Finches are some of the most brightly colored of all Estrildid finches (see next page). Most species have a base color of green, with blue or red facial markings. They mostly inhabit areas along forest edges, where they feed upon seeding grasses or bamboo.
For one species, the Pin-tailed Parrot Finch, its acquired diet of rice has made it a target for destruction in much of its range in Southeast Asia. It once was found widely and in great numbers. However, campaigns to poison these birds or to destroy nesting sights have led to a very marked decrease in this specie's range and numbers over the years. Clearly, with the multiple threats facing this genus of finches, efforts should be made to further their existence in captivity
PARROT FINCHES IN U.S. AVICULTURE
Of the 12 species of Parrot Finches in the world, only one species, the Red-throated (Erythrura psittacea) is approaching establishment in the United States. A second species, the Blue-faced, is present in significant numbers. However, if it were not for the regular importation of European-bred birds, even this species would be very difficult to find in the United States. There are a few dedicated hobbyists in our group who have committed themselves to raising the Peales or Fiji Parrot Finch as well as the Forbes or Tricolor Parrot Finch. Due to their efforts, the numbers of these birds has risen dramatically in the United States in recent years. Of the remaining species, very few, if any, birds exist in the United States. Despite their extreme beauty and relative ease in propagation, much work needs to be done if these beautiful finches are to be established in North America.