Classification, origin, behavior of zebrafinch


1. Classification

(Source: International Ornithological Congress C.O.I.)

  • Order : Passeriformes
  • Family : Estrildity
  • Genus : Taeniopygia
  • Species : Guttata
  • Subspecies : Taeniopygia guttata

Zebrafinch (Taeniopygia guttata), sometimes referred to as Mandarin for short, is the most common and familiar estrildity in central Australia.

2. Subspecies and distribution

There are two distinct subspecies.
Taeniopygia guttata guttata, the Timorese zebrafinch, ranges from Lombok in the Sunda Islands or Nusa Tanggara in Indonesia to Sermata, in addition to coastal areas around mainland Australia.
The other subspecies is Taeniopygia gutatta castonatis. The latter is found over much of mainland Australia and some of these varieties are considered domestic.

The morphological differences between the two subspecies include differences in size.
Taeniopygia guttata guttata is smaller (8 cm) than Taeniopygia guttata castanotis and does not bear the same distinguishing mark on the throat and upper part of the breast.

3. Description

This bird measures 8 to 10 cm (wild form) or 12 to 14 cm (domestic form) for a mass of about 15g.

4. Longevity

This bird can live for 7 to 10 years. It is a robust bird that can withstand temperatures of -15 °C, knowing that it can survive at least + 40 °C.

5. Habitat

Zebra finches inhabit Australia's open steppes with scattered bushes and trees, but have adapted to human disturbance, taking advantage of man-made water holes, and spaces opened up by deforestation. They go to cities and show up all over Australia.


6. Reproduction in natural environment

Zebrafinch reproduce after heavy rains have occurred in their natural habitat at any time of the year. Adaptable and versatile in the construction of their nests, wild zebra finches can settle in niches, caves, bushes, scrublands, rabbit burrows, on termite nests, or even in holes present in structures of human manufacture. Outside of the breeding season, the nests are also used for night-resting birds.

The laying can go from 4 to 6 eggs with a frequency of one per day, the incubation is ensured as well by the female as by the male and lasts about 13 days. 3 weeks later, the young leave the nest. In the juvenile stage the bill is black.

In captivity, zebra finches nest in all kinds of nests, and can breed all year round (if the right conditions are reproduced). It's birds are known to breed easily.

7. Behaviour

Zebrafinch have an extremely gregarious behavior, and it is extremely rare to see a single individual. Zebra finches therefore prefer to evolve in groups.

8. "Use"

Zebrafinch are sometimes used to model avian populations.

They also constitute a model of study of the capacities of interpretation of the sounds by the brain, thanks to their capacity to recognize and react to the songs of their congeners. Their popularity as a subject of study also comes from the ease of reproduction.

Video of an English environmentalist illustrating the zebrafinch in Australia:

Bibliography : Wikipedia, Zebra finch

Tony Lombard, amateur breeder.
Article published in 2018.

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wild form behavior origin Classification description longevity reproduction