Finch Conservation

I have been ringing the bell for parrot conservation over and over but now I want to look at smaller birds, the ones who are a joy in the aviary but might be overlooked in the wild. No matter how small, these birds usually eat some insects which is an important service to an ungrateful world.

Johan Otter, president of the North County Aviculturists, has been warning us that some of these delightful creatures will not be available much longer unless we start producing them ourselves. I love my zebra finches and society finches, but many others are worth putting into an aviary with nests.

Wait, you’re not a finch!

The Rare Finch Conservation group is currently making efforts to improve the condition of the smallest finch in Africa, the Orange-breasted Waxbill. It’s not listed as threatened yet, but the population has declined over the decade.

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Orange-breasted Waxbill. Photo Duncan McKenzie – South Africa

Australia has finches with so few members counted in the wild that no number is listed on the Rare Finch site. The Red-eared Firetail, the star finch, and the Yellow-rumped Mannikin. I wonder if there is no classification of critical on these because so many live in aviculture collections around the world.

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Ecuador’s pale headed brush finch has less than 30 birds in the wild. Such a pretty bird.

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Sao Tome Grosbeak, the world’s largest canary. Image credit: Alexandre Vaz

Another finch with a small wild population is the Sao Tome Grosbeak. Only 50 individuals have been counted. Not really a good gene pool to prevent problems. These finches are also listed with 50 individuals: Brazil’s hooded seedeater, Hawaii’s O’U, and Mexico’s Worthen’s Sparrow, which is hanging around 120 individuals.

Sure, finches are small birds and might not be noticed if they disappeared. But here is a delightfully long list and exploration of the reasons we need them around us. Even taking it with the grain of salt because it’s Audubon, you can’t argue with every point they make.

While no finches made the list of the Ten Most Endangered and Distinctive Birds in the World, they still have a place of importance in our lives.

Hopefully, I have sold you on wanting to keep these little sweethearts around. Now, how can we do this? There are many good groups you can hook up with to start preserving finches around the world. The Nature Conservancy is one.  Audubon is another.  The National Wildlife Federation is also one.

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Yellow-rumped Mannikin.

Specifically bird related, the American Bird Conservancy has outreaches on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Whatever path you settle on, be sure to do whatever you can while you can. Because then you can work on your local birds as well. Grow plants and flowers that are helpful to local finches, put up seed feeders and nectar holders. Sit in a shady spot in your yard and maybe photograph the birds who visit you. Use that information to determine which birds to cater to. Sure, it’s not much on the global scale, but it helps birds, and that’s the bottom line. The love and respect you show here will flow all around the world.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.


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