Melba Finch
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. Melba finch
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  • Scientific Name:  Pytilia melba
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  9, maybe more.
  • Origin / Distribution:  Africa
  • Habitat In Wild:  Dry open scrub land and arid or semi arid grasslands.
  • Status In Wild:  Secure
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Secure
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  ?
  • Adult plumage: attained at about 7 months
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  2nd - 5th year 
  • Lifespan (estimate): About 7 - 8 years
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Mutations:  No
  • Availability:  Bird dealers
  • Temperament:  Attractive birds.  Can be aggressive to other Melba pairs, but can be kept as a single pair of Melbas in a mixed collection.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $100 - $120
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Approx. 120 mm (or approx  5 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx. 15 -17 gms (or approx 1/2 oz)
Aviary Notes:

Read notes on "Finches - Non Australian" web page and use in conjunction with details outlined on this page.

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to "Government Laws" web page.

Housing Requirements:  Click on "Housing birds" web page for general details on the housing of Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.

Melba finches do well in a planted aviary of about 3 metres long (10 feet).  900mm (3 feet) wide is sufficient.

Diet / Feeding:  Click on "Feeding birds" web page for general details on the nutrition of  Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.

They are natural ground feeders.  In the wild they eat seeds and insects.

Good quality finch mix, seeding grasses and some fruits (e.g. apple).  Live food is essential especially at breeding season.  Mealworms, small crickets, small commercially bred cockroaches and small locusts are ideal.  Sprouted or soaked seed if available.  Melba finches are more reliant on live insects than most of the other species of finches to produce a good clutch of young.  Green leafy vegetables can be offered but many Melbas do not show much interest in eating it.

Basic seed mix should include Canary seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest: Yes / No
  • Nesting months:  May breed year round if conditions are suitable but Spring to Autumn gives the best results.
  • Nesting receptacles:  Will build a open cup shaped nest in a shrub or dry brush such as tea tree.  May use artificial nests such as half open nest boxes.
  • Nest:  The cock bird builds a dome shaped nest with a side entrance.  The nest is made mostly from grasses.  Nest is lined with feathers and soft fine grasses such as November or Swamp grass.
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen / cock / both share.

Nests may be built at a variety of levels ranging from close to the ground to near roof level.

Nest sites are aggressively defended and nest inspections are generally not tolerated.  Multiple nest sites that are well separated must be available in a mixed species collection.  Melbas may reuse the nest for subsequent clutches but others will build a new nest.  Adequate spare nest receptacles must be available for pairs nesting in artificial nests before the current clutch leave the nest.  Adequate new nest material must be available for the birds to rebuild the old nest or build a new nest for the next clutch.

More details on finch nests and a selection of finch nest photos can be located on the "nests", "finch nests" and "finch nest photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "nests" then "finch nests" and "finch nests photos" in the navigation bars.  

Breeding:  Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year  3.  Eggs per nest  3 - 6.  Incubation approx. 12 - 13 days.  Fledge approx.  20 days.  Independent approx. another 3 - 4 weeks.

Melba finches come from a warm dry country and do best when bred in these conditions.   Spring to Autumn gives the best results.

Both parent birds feed the young.  Young are fed insects for the first 10 or so days.  The predominantly insect food intake provides the young a good source of easily digested proteins.  The young may be fed by the parent birds for about 2 weeks after they have left the nest.

Parents are intolerant of nest inspections.  Pair bonding is fairly strong.

Closely related to the Aurora Finch and should not be housed with Aurora's so as to avoid hybridization.

Juviniles can be similar to the adult females.  Be careful when removing fledgling birds.  Do not catch up the adult hen thinking it is one of the babies.

Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.  Refer "Specific References" as listed below and "General References" listings.

Health Issues: Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer above option - "Avian Health Issues" web page.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 60 No 3 Mar 2006 Page 54-56 (England) ( inc photo).
  • A/A Vol 56 No. 12 Dec 2002 Page 269-274 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 49 No. 9 Sept 1995 Page 197-199 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 49 No. 2 Feb 1995 Page 25-26 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 43 No. 2 Feb 1989 Page 24-25
  • A/A Vol 34 No. 1 Jan 1980 Page 1-2
  • A/A Vol 25 No. 2 Feb 1971 Page 21-22.
  • A/A Vol 21 No. 10 Oct 1967 Page137 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol 17 No 3 Mar 1963 Page 43-44.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 11 Nov 1952 Page 135-136.
  • A/A Vol  5 No 2 Feb 1951 Page 18.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 3. Jun-Jul 2002 Page 157-158.
  • ABK Vol  4 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 1991 Page 465-469

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