(Poephila Acuticauda Hecki)
Common Names: Shafttail Finch, Heck's Shaftail, Long Tailed Grassfinch
Description: In the normal form the Shafttail has a silver-gray head with a rosey-brown body. A black eye mask extends from the beak to the eye and a unique black bib can be seen under the lower mandible reaching the upper breast. The rump is white with a black band above it. Central tail feathers are black while the beak is red. They have flesh-red colored legs. Both sexes look identical with only slight differences in body size, beak color and bib size. Males are normaly bigger, have a wider bib and brighter beaks. Head bobbing is seen in both sexes but more often preformed by the males.
Size: These birds average 5-6 inches (13-15cm) and are hardy birds.
Origin: The Shaftail orginates from Austraila and is still very numerous second only to the Zebra Finch. A red billed sub-species (Phophila acuticauda hecki) from the western region is now more common in US aviculture than the original yellow billed species (Phoephila acuticauda) from the eastern region.
Shafttail Finch (Phoephila acuticauda)- recessive yellow beak instead of dominant red beak
Heck's Shafttail Finch (Phoephila acuticauda hecki)- dominant red beak instead of yellow beak
Parson Finch (Poephila cincta)- black beak and eye mask, grey head with brown body color
Masked Grassfinch (Poephila personata)- black face mask with brown and white body
Diet: A good Stafttail Finch diet is a mixture of mixed millets available in a good finch mix. Fresh water, cuttlebone and grit should also be supplied at all times. Lettuce, Spinach, Chickweed, Spray Millet, Eggfood, Brocolli tops and Carrot tops can also be offered on a regular basis. These guys love the eggfood and sprouted seed.
General Care: Do not forget to trim your Shafttail Finch's nails on occasion and provide bath water daily!
Compatibility: This species is normaly a good prospect for a mixed aviary. The get along well with each other and other finches although they may bicker on occasion with smaller waxbills during breeding season.
Housing: These birds do best in a large planted aviary. If you are wanting them to breed you can seperate them by pairs into large flights or breeding cages. We prefer to house them in single pair planted flight cages. Some heat will be required durring winter months so these birds are best suited for large indoor aviaries during winter. In the summer time they will thrive and come into best condition in outdoor aviaries provided you provide shelter to keep them from damp conditions.
Song: This species of bird is very comical to watch when singing. They take turns bobbing thier head while the male sings his series of the call songs. The female will call but she will not sing the full song like the male.
Breeding: Shafttails can be cage or aviary bred. Better breeding results seem to come when pairs are housed seperatly. We house each pair in a 36 x 20 x 20 flight with bamboo coverage for privacy. Bird house gourds and finch nest boxes are offered for the nest. They seem to prefer the nestboxes in which they can lay deep in and hide. Shaftails will use a variety of nesting material such as coco fiber, shredded paper, dried grasses and feathers. They must build the nest themselves and will not tolerate you building it for them. I have shaped the nest for them in the past only to have them tear it out and start over. After breeding takes place the hen normaly lays 4-7 eggs which both parents take turns incubating for 14 days. After hatching it will be about 21 days before the young leave the nest. At about 42 days old the young Shafttails are weaned and independent.