Long-tailed Finch

Poephila acuticauda

The long-tailed finch is a small songbird that is native to the dry grasslands of northern Australia. They feature a striking plumage and stout bills that range in color from yellow to bright red. In the pet trade, the species is known by various names including black-heart finch, Heck's finch, shaft-tail finch, and orange-billed finch. These birds can live 7 to 9 years in captivity.

Did You Know?

Commercial trapping of finches was banned in Australia in 1987.


Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Little Cause for Concern

Long-tailed fiches were formerly captured for the pet trade; some 80,000 wild birds were trapped from 1974 to 1986. Commercial trapping of finches was banned in Australia in 1987. There is no evidence that wild populations of long-tailed finches are currently at risk of extinction in their native range.

Long-tailed finches breed well in captivity. They have multiple clutches of 5–7 eggs per year, so harvesting wild animals for the pet trade is unnecessary.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Only purchase a pet long-tailed finch from a reputable breeder or distributor to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal. Additionally, ask for proof that your animal was captive-bred; PetWatch strongly recommends only purchasing captive-bred birds to ensure that wild populations can continue to thrive.

Invasion Threat

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Unable to Rank

EcoHealthy Pets found no evidence that long-tailed finches have established wild populations outside their native range.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before obtaining any non-traditional pet, check that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally imported or wild-caught animal. Always keep your pet inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Ease of Care

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Some Cause for Concern

Ease of care of many non-traditional pets depends on the individual owner’s years of experience and knowledge caring for a particular species. For the purposes of this website, we have geared information toward the benefit of the beginner.

Long-tailed finches are very adaptable and usually do well in captivity, but they do not like to be handled. They are more apt to thrive if part of a colony in a large aviary. Long-tailed finches are inquisitive and may inadvertently provoke aggressive behavior if kept with more dominant species.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When obtaining a long-tailed finch, ask for proof that it was captive bred from a reputable breeder with a permit to sell the animal. Be sure to research its specific care requirements. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and how to maintain a healthy weight for your pet.

Health Threat

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Some Cause for Concern

Long-tailed finches can carry bacteria of concern to humans including Salmonella and less commonly Chlamydophila psittaci, which causes psittacosis, or parrot fever. Psittacosis is less common in finches than in parrot species, but finches can contract the disease after being housed with infected parrots.  Although less common in the U.S., this disease is potentially life-threatening for humans. Diseases of concern to other birds also include parasitic infections, such as coccidia.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet bird, ask the seller if the animal has been checked by a veterinarian and for a list of any medical treatments the animal has received.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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