Zebra Finch

The Zebra Finch, is the most common and familiar estrildid finch of Central Australia and ranges over most of the continent, avoiding only the cool moist south and the tropical far north. It also can be found natively in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The bird has been introduced to Puerto Rico , Portugal ,Brazil , and the U.S..

The ground-dwelling Zebra Finch grows to a size of about 10 centimetres (3.9 in) long and prefers to eat grass seeds. This species' vocalizations consist mostly of chattering trills and calls.


Zebra Finches inhabit a wide range of grasslands and forests, usually close to water. They are typically found in open steppes with scattered bushes and trees, but have adapted to human disturbances, taking advantage of human-made watering holes and large patches of deforested land. Zebra Finches — including many human-bred variants to the species — are widely kept by genetic researchers, breeding hobbyists and pet owners.

The Zebra Finch breeds after substantial rains in its native habitat, which can occur at any time of the year. Birds in captivity are ready to breed year-round. Wild birds are adaptable and varied in their nesting habits, with nests being found in cavities, scrub, low trees, bushes, on the ground, in termite hills, rabbit burrows, nests of other birds, and in the cracks, crevices, and ledges of human structures. Outside of the breeding time, brood nests are constructed for sleeping in.


The life expectancy of a Zebra Finch is highly variable because of genetic and environmental factors. The Zebra Finch may reach up to 15 years in its natural environment, averaging 5 to 10 years in captivity.If they are kept caged they normally live for 8-10 years, if they are well looked after and happy, they will most likely live for around 12 years. The greatest threat to the survival of the species are predation by cats and loss of natural food.

Song and other vocalizations

Zebra Finches are loud and boisterous singers. Their call can be a loud "beep", "meep", "oi!" or "a-ha!", sounding something like a toy trumpet or the buttons on a phone being pushed. Their song is a few small beeps, leading up to a rhythmic song of varying complexity in males. Each male's song is different, although birds of the same bloodline will exhibit similarities, and all finches will overlay their own uniqueness onto a common rhythmic framework. Sons generally learn the song of their father with little variation. Songs may change during puberty, but afterwards they are locked in for the life of the bird. Scientific research at Japan's RIKEN institute has suggested that singing to females is an emotionally rewarding experience for male Zebra Finches.

Male Zebra Finches begin to sing at puberty while females lack a singing ability. This is due to a developmental difference, where in the embryo, the male Zebra Finch produces estrogen, which is transformed into a testosterone-like hormone in the brain, which in turn leads to the nervous development of a song system. Their song begins as a few disjointed sounds, but as they experiment and match what they sing to the memory of the father's song, it rapidly matures into a full-fledged song. During these formative times, they will incorporate sounds from their surroundings into their song, also using the songs of other nearby males for inspiration.

Male finches use their song, in part, as a mating call. The mating act is usually accompanied by a high pitched whining sound. They will also exhibit a hissing sound when they are protecting their territory.

Because Zebra Finch males learn their songs, they are often used as avian model organisms to investigate the neural bases of learning, memory, and sensorimotor integration. The Zebra Finch genome was the second bird genome to be sequenced, in 2008, after that of the chicken. Their popularity as model organisms is also related to their prolific breeding, an adaptation to their usually dry environment. This ability also makes them popular as pet songbirds.


Zebra Finches, like most estrildid finches, are primarily seed-eating birds, as their beaks are adapted for dehusking small seeds. They prefer millet, but will consume many other kinds of seeds as well. While they prefer seed, captive Zebra Finches will also eat egg food. They are particularly fond of spray millet, and one or two of these small birds will eat a spray millet stalk within a few days. Zebra Finches are messy and voracious eaters, typically dropping seed everywhere.This behavior spreads seed around, aiding in plant reproduction. The availability of water is important to this birds survival, therefore the Zebra Finch will drink often when water is available. A typical Zebra Finch may be plump, because it eats quite often throughout the day.


In the Zebra Finch, sudden bursts of gathering behaviors signal that a pair is ready to nest. The pair will pull strings or plant leaves that they can reach, and if there are no available materials to gather, they will use feathers and bits of seed husks. Alfalfa or Timothy Hay is an acceptable nesting material as it is closest to what is readily available in the wild. Any item they can use to build a nest will be deposited in a corner of the cage floor, or in their food dish. When these behaviors are noticed a mating pair should be provided with a sturdy wicker nest about the size of a large apple or orange. This nest should always be placed in the highest possible corner of the cage, opposite the food dish but near the normal night perch. Nesting finches will abandon a perch if it is across the cage with the male showing that he prefers to sit atop the nest while the female lays. During the nest building, however, both will spend the night cuddling inside the nest.

When they accept the nest shell and begin using it each night, they should be provided with an ample supply of very soft bits of string and leaves. They prefer items that are only a couple of inches long and will use nearly any type and color of soft material. The nest shell will be packed with everything they can reach for at least a week before laying begins.

The number of eggs ranges from 2 - 7 eggs per clutch with 5 being the most common number. In captivity, some birds lay larger clutches.

Males and females are very similar in size, but are easily distinguished from one another as the males usually have bright orange cheek feathers, a red beak (as opposed to the orange beak of a female), and generally more striking black and white patterns. The beak is sometimes the only way to tell the gender of a Zebra Finch, as sometimes the orange cheek coloring is faded or nonexistent. Offspring from a similarly colored nesting pair may sometimes vary from the parents coloration, with nestlings from plain grey to completely white. These variations are usually due to mixed breeding between finch types somewhere down the family line especially in pet store birds. However, the orange cheeks are a stubborn indication that a young Zebra Finch is indeed a male and the cheeks begin to appear when the young are about two months old. Young Zebra Finches will also have a black beak, with the coloring coming in at puberty, though it begins changing at age 1 month.

The chicks will hatch according to the laying time of each egg. It is common to have one or two eggs remaining unhatched as the parents begin the task of feeding the nestlings. Though it is preferable to leave nests alone after the egg laying begins, once hatching begins a breeder might find it useful to make daily 'checks' into the nest to correct problems early, such as larger chicks sitting on and smothering smaller ones, thus increasing the number of chicks that eventually fledge. The time from laying until a fledgling adventures outside will vary with each clutch, but generally good eggs will hatch within 14 to 16 days of laying and young will begin to venture out within about three or four weeks of hatching, and will look full grown in about three months. Breeding age is eight or more months. Zebra Finch are usually excellent parents and will readily take turns sitting on the nest and bringing food to the young.

While the female is laying, only her mate will be allowed in the nest. Allowing the pair to start a new family while the first clutch is still in the cage will overly stress all the birds in the family. The father bird will not allow any other birds near the nest while eggs are being laid, so the fussing and shoving will be noisy and tiring for all the birds.

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Green Peafowl

The Green Peafowl is a large Galliform bird that is found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.


The sexes of Green Peafowl are quite similar in appearance, especially in the field. During most of the year, when the males have no visible trains, it is quite difficult to distinguish the sexes. Both sexes have tall pointed crests, and are long-legged, heavy-winged and long-tailed in silhouette. Seen from a distance, they are generally dark coloured birds with pale vermillion or buff coloured primaries which are quite visible in their peculiar flight which has been described as a true flapping flight with little gliding that one associates with Galliform birds.

The males of the subspecies imperator and spicifer are overall bluish-green, the former having a metallic-green breast, neck, wing-coverts and outer webs of secondaries, whereas the latter has a duller, bluer breast and neck, and more black on the wing-coverts and outer web of secondaries. Compared to these, Nominate muticus is overall more golden-green and has less blue on the neck and breast. Considerable variation exists in plumage of neck and breast which may be linked with age and sex.

The male of the Green Peafowl have a loud call of ki-wao, which is often repeated. The female has a loud aow-aa call with an emphasis on the first syllable. The males call from their roost sites at dawn and dusk.

Green Peafowl are large birds, one of the largest living Galliforms in terms of overall length and wingspan, though rather lighter-bodied than the Wild Turkey. The male grows up to 3 meters (10 ft) long, including the "train" and weighs up to 5 kg (11 lbs). The female is 1.1 meter (3.5 ft) long and weighs about 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs). It has large wingspan of approximately 1.2 m (4 ft). Unlike Indian Peafowl, the Green Peafowl is a better flier and capable of sustained flight.

Distribution and habitat

The Green Peafowl was widely distributed in Southeast Asia in the past from northern Myanmar and southern China, extending through Laos, and Thailand into Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Java. The ranges have reduced with habitat destruction and hunting. They are now a protected species of India.

Green Peafowls are found in a wide range of habitats including primary and secondary forest, both tropical and subtropical, as well as evergreen and deciduous. They may also be found amongst bamboo, on grasslands, savannas, scrub and farmland edge. In Vietnam, the preferred habitat was found to be dry deciduous forest close to water and away from human disturbance. Proximity to water appears to be an important factor.


Following the advice of his Hong Kong bird dealer, World Pheasant Association founder and ornithologist, Jean Delacour recognized three races of Green Peafowl. Today most authorities recognize these three:

  • P. m. muticus (nominate). Found in Java. Was also known from the Malay Peninsula from the northern part extending south to Kedah.
  • P. m. imperator. From Burma to Thailand, southern China and Indochina.
  • P. m. spicifer. Found in northwestern Burma. Formerly also north-eastern India and Bangladesh.

Some authors have suggested that the population found in Yunnan may be yet another race.

Green Peafowls are found today in Southeast Asia in mainland Burma, Yunnan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and on the island of Java in Indonesia. They are absent from both Sumatra and Borneo. Records from northeastern India have been questioned and old records are possibly of feral birds.


The Green Peafowl is a forest bird which nests on the ground laying 3 to 6 eggs.

It has been widely believed without quantification that the Green Peafowl is polygynous, the male having no parental responsibilities whatsoever.

However, the theory that the male is polygynous also conflicts with observations in captivity; pairs left alone with no human interaction have been observed to be strongly monogamous. The close similarity between both sexes also suggests a different breeding system in contrast to that of the Indian Peafowl. Thus, some authors have suggested that the harems seen in the field are juvenile birds and that males are not promiscuous.

They usually spend time on or near the ground in tall grasses and sedges. Like other peafowl, the Green Peafowl love to wade and forage for food in the shallows for a good portion of each day. Family units roost in trees at a height of 10–15 m. The diet consists mainly of fruits, invertebrates, reptiles, and other small animals. As with the other member of its genus, the Green Peafowl can even hunt venomous snakes, making them useful for pest control. Ticks and termites, flower petals, buds leaves and berries are favorite foods of adult peafowl. Frogs and other aquatic small animals probably make up the bulk of the diet of growing birds.

Green Peafowl occupy a similar ecological niche as the unrelated Secretary Bird, seriamas, and bustards. That is to say, Green Peafowl hunt for small animals on the ground in tropical savannah. Like these other predatory bird species, Green Peafowl are monogamous and enjoy prolonged relationships with their offspring. All these cursorial hunters display delayed maturity, are long-legged, heavy-winged, with prominent crests and long, broad tails.

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Indian Peafowl

The Indian Peafowl also known as the Common Peafowl or the Blue Peafowl, is one of two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the Phasianidae family known as peafowl. The peacock is the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab (Pakistan).

Distribution and habitat

The Indian Peafowl is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced into many parts of the world; feral populations exist in many countries.

The species is found in dry semi-desert grasslands, scrub and deciduous forests. It forages and nests on the ground but roosts in trees.


Females are about 86 cm (34 in) long and weigh 2.75–4 kg (6-8.8 lbs), while males average at about 2.12 m (7.3 ft) in full breeding plumage (107 cm/42 in when not) and weigh 4–6 kg (8.8-13.2 lbs). The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen. The Indian Peacock has iridescent blue-green plumage. The upper tail coverts on its back are elongated and ornate with an eye at the end of each feather. These are the Peacock's display feathers. The female plumage is a mixture of dull green, grey and iridescent blue, with the greenish-grey predominating. In the breeding season, females stand apart by lacking the long 'tail feathers' also known as train, and in the non-breeding season they can be distinguished from males by the green colour of the neck as opposed to the blue on the males.

Peafowl are most notable for the male's extravagant display feathers which, despite actually growing from their back, are known as a 'tail' or train. This train is in reality not the tail but the enormously elongated upper tail coverts. The tail itself is brown and short as in the peahen. The colours result from the micro-structure of the feathers and the resulting optical phenomena.

The ornate train is believed to be the result of female sexual selection as males raised the feathers into a fan and quiver it as part of courtship display. Many studies have suggested that the quality of train is an honest signal of the condition of males and that peahens select males on the basis of their plumage. More recent studies however, suggest that other cues may be involved in mate selection by peahens.



They lay a clutch of 4-8 eggs which take 28 days to hatch. The eggs are light brown and are laid every other day usually in the afternoon. The male does not assist with the rearing, and is polygamous with up to six hens.


Peafowl eat seeds, insects, fruits, small mammals and reptiles.

Conservation and status


The Indian Peafowl can hybridise with the closely related Green Peafowl, Pavo muticus, in captivity and creates offspring called "Spauldings" or "Spaldings". The original "Spalding" was a hybrid between a female of the black-shouldered mutation of the Indian Peafowl, with a male of the nominate Java subspecies of the Green Peafowl, though some believe it was really a cross between a black-shouldered male with a Green Peafowl hen of the subspecies imperator.

Even though there is no natural range overlap, hybridisation occurs in the wild when feral populations of one of the species overlaps another species. Hybridisation has created some concern as the Green Peafowl is endangered.


Poaching of peacocks for their feathers and poisoning by feeding on pesticide treated seeds are known threats to wild birds. Methods to identify if feathers have been plucked or have been shed naturally have been developed. Under the law, collection of tail feathers is allowed only when the bird sheds them.

In New Zealand, peafowl have done extremely well to the point of becoming agricultural pests. There are no regulations on hunting or harvesting the birds for food and feathers.

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Congo Peafowl Information

The Congo Peafowl is a species of peafowl. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Afropavo.

The male is a large bird of up to 70 cm (28 in) in length. Its feathers are deep blue with a metallic green and violet tinge. It has bare red neck skin, grey feet, and a black tail with fourteen feathers. Its head is adorned with vertical white elongated hair-like feathers on its crown. The female is generally a chestnut brown bird with a black abdomen, metallic green back, and a short chestnut brown crest. Both sexes resemble immature Asian Peafowl, with early stuffed birds being erroneously classified as such before they were officially discovered as a unique species.

It inhabits and is endemic to lowland rainforests of Congo River Basin in the central part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The diet consists mainly of fruits and invertebrates. The male has a similar display to other peacocks, fanning its tail in this case, while other peacocks fan their upper tail coverts. The male Congo Peafowl is monogamous, though information from the wild is needed.

Very little is known about this species. It was first recorded as a species in 1936 by Dr. James Chapin based on two stuffed specimens at Congo Museum in Belgium. It has characteristics of both the peafowl and the guineafowl, which may indicate that the Congo Peafowl is a link between the two families.

Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size and hunting in some areas, the Congo Peafowl is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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Buff Duck Information

The Buff Orpington Duck is a breed of Domestic duck it is a dual-propose breed used for meat and egg production. It is capable of laying up to 220 eggs a year. Originally created by William Cook of Orpington, Kent,UK, from the selection of mis-marked Blue Orpington Ducks. The Buff Orpington Duck was introduced to the public at the Dairy Show,the Agricultural Hall(q.v.), Islington, London in October 1897. It is considered a threatened breed by the ALBC. This breed was admitted to the American Poultry Associations Standard of Perfection as the 'Buff Duck' in the Medium class in 1914.

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Blue Swedish Duck

The Blue Swedish duck is a breed of domesticated duck.

It is a medium sized duck that weighs between 6.5 and 8 pounds; males usually weigh more than females.

The color of Blue Swedish ducks is due to heterozygosity in a color gene. If a Blue Swedish duck and drake breed, the young are the usual 25% / 50% / 25% ratio in:-

  • 25%: A homozygous form, black where the blue should be.
  • 50%: As the parents.
  • 25%: The other homozygous form, splashed or silver with combinations of blue and black and white.

This breed of duck is listed as watch by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

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Ancona Duck Information

The Ancona Duck is a breed of domestic duck. These rare ducks are considered to be a descendant of the Indian Runner Duck and the Belgian Huttegem Duck breeds. Anconas were developed in England during the early 20th century, but were not available in the United States until 1984. Even though their numbers have increased in the U.S., the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, in their 2000 census of domestic waterfowl in North America, listed the Ancona's status as "critical". Just like most other domestic ducks, the Anconas are a flightless duck, so they don't migrate. They are fairly calm animals and make good pond, yard, and breeding birds. They tend to be excellent foragers, and if allowed will augment their diet with greens, slugs, insects and other arthropods. Their closest relatives are Magpie ducks and Dutch Hookbills. They typically lay 210–280 eggs per year.


Ancona ducks have an oval head, and a slightly concave length bill, with green specks, as well as plumage under the eyes. They weigh approximately 6.5 pounds as adults. They have medium-length necks shaped like an S that is smaller at the top with a wider bottom. As ducklings they are yellow with spots or speckles, and as adults are white with "Pinto" markings (no two animals have the same pattern). They come in a variety of colors including: Black and White, Blue and White, Chocolate and White, Silver and White, Lavender and White, and Tri-colored. Most common is black and white. Their bills and feet are orange.

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