The National Finch and Softbill Society

Finch and Softbill Save Program Guidelines


 Complete Census information

The NFSS Census

Please remember to participate in the annual census! The Census is located at All are welcome to participate regardless of whether or not they are an NFSS member. The 2014 census is now closed for entries, but you may VIEW THE CURRENT CENSUS RESULTS.

NFSS Finch and Softbill Save Program Flyer

Definition and Purpose:

The National Finch and Softbill Society established the FinchSave program in 1988. Although, thru the years, the program requirements have changed, the definition and purpose of the program have not. The long-term goal of the Finch and Softbill Save program is to establish a consortium of breeders of finches and softbills dedicated to producing and maintaining a viable captive-bred population of finches and softbills in the United States and Canada. The short-term goal of the program is to establish consistent breeding success with participating species in the United States and Canada.

Web-based Database:

Because in the past, the paperwork required to manage the program was overwhelming for both the user and the administrators, the Finch and Softbill Save program is investing time in the development of an online database application that will allow users to enter their information electronically. Such a system will allow users to review and update their own information at any time and will automate report generation and statistical analyses.

The system will include the following features:

  • Annual reporting routines will evaluate the data reported by participants and tally the statistics provided for each species. Such analyses offer a snapshot of the state of aviculture for each species and can lead to species profiles to assist our breeding efforts.
  • A studbook will maintain the documented ancestral history of all birds in the program, providing pedigrees and tools to help ensure genetic diversity.
  • Breeders of rare species can easily network to exchange bloodlines and expand flocks, without sacrificing each participant’s control over private information.

Because the system is still under development, some of the roles and rules below may change as we progress. We ask for your patience as the software is developed and the guidelines are amended accordingly.

Program Requirements:

Participants must meet the following requirements in order to participate in the Finch and Softbill Save program:

  • Participants must be NFSS members in good standing.
  • Participants must band all offspring with appropriate sized bands. Closed banding is encouraged whenever possible, but open numbered bands are acceptable at the breeder’s discretion when closed banding is not possible or ill-advised.
  • Participants must validate their data at a specified yearly time to ensure all data in the system is up-to-date.
  • There is no pair limit requirement.

Species Captain Roles:

The Finch and Softbill Save program incorporates the use of Species Captains. Traditionally, Species Captains have been responsible for gathering information from participants, getting birds into participants’ hands, monitoring bloodlines, communicating with participants, and assisting participants with any problems that they may have. Species Captains are responsible for providing information on their particular species to put together a species profile.

While the new online system will be able to help greatly with some of these responsibilities, a species profile is more than a table full of numbers that could easily be misunderstood. Instead, it is a collection of all types of data and an interpretation of what that data might mean in the context of US and Canadian aviculture. In that respect, a computer cannot compete with an experienced aviculturist.

Group Manager Roles:

The Group Managers are responsible for supervising all the Species Captains in their group of birds and, if no Species Captain is appointed for a particular species, responsible for acting as the Species Captain for that species. Group Managers will need to work closely with their Species Captains to compile information on species they are overseeing. We would like to see Group Managers have repeated breeding success with several birds they are applying to oversee. The Group Managers will head the following groups:

  • All Australian Finches
  • All African Finches
  • All Indo-Pacific Finches
  • All European Finches
  • All South American Finches
  • All Softbills

List of Finch and Softbill Save Excluded Birds:

The current list of excluded birds for the Finch and Softbill Save Program as follows:

  • The Lady Gouldian Finch
  • The Society Finch
  • The Zebra Finch
  • The Java Rice Finch*
  • Doves and Quail
  • All Mutations that are not documented as being sustained in the natural population.

While the FSS Program excludes mutations, it does not discourage aviculturists from working with them. The goal of a conservation effort is to preserve the species in captivity as it exists in the wild, and as such, data regarding mutations does not belong. While the goal of mutation breeding is different from conservation breeding, this is not to say that the information gleaned is not valuable in its own right. Aviculturists are encouraged to pursue their interests, but keep the FSS database confined to wild-type birds.


Multi-Tier Program:

In the past, FSS has operated as a multi-tier program. This tiering system asked participants to chose between closed banding of all offspring of a registered species and open banding of all such offspring. This system will be re-evaluated by the FSS Committee. With the new online software, it may be possible to tier the birds themselves, rather than the breeders. In this manner, FSS can continue with its strong support and encouragement for closed banding of birds, without taking away a breeder’s ability to make choices in his/her birdroom based on the situation and still comply with FSS guidelines.

The following are sources to purchase open split and closed numbered bands:

If members know of other sources that can be listed, please contact the FSS Director.

Membership Fee:

There is no fee to participate in the Finch and Softbill Save program. However, one must be an NFSS member in good standing. Failure to renew your NFSS membership will result in your suspension from the Finch and Softbill Save Program until you have renewed.

Annual Data Validation:

All FSS Participants will be required to validate that their data is accurate and up-to-date once a year, before annual reports are run. If you fail to validate your data, your data will not be used in the analyses and you will not be able to access many system features until you validate. Failure to validate your data for multiple annual reports may be grounds for your removal from the program.

The whole premise behind the Finch and Softbill Save Program is to establish captive-bred populations of bird species in the US and Canada. It is through the information analyzed in the annual reports that we will be able to put together Species Profiles on the birds registered in the program, be able to track the population increase in registered species, and keep track of the diverse bloodlines. The information about how you successfully bred your birds will be very useful to others who are also trying to be successful. The benefits of the program are free to NFSS members; we ask only that you ensure your information is current when the reports are run.


The FSS Program takes into account participants’ privacy concerns. All participants will be able to control their privacy level. One can choose to be completely anonymous – allowing the program to use your information for analysis purposes only – or one may choose exactly what personal information you would like to share. Those who want to share their information will the other participants can choose to do so as well. A messaging service will also be provided to allow participants to contact each other anonymously – one can then choose to release personal information at their own discretion.

What YOU can do to make the program more successful:

We encourage all FSS participants to recruit fellow hobbyists to join the program.

Contribute. Contribute. Contribute. If you have time on your hands and experience with any of the birds included in the program, apply for a Specie Captain position.

Keep your data up-to-date and validate it in time for the annual report. Work closely with your Species Captain to provide him/her with as much detail as possible on the birds you are working with. Taking the time to be actively involved in the program is of benefit to us all.

Finch and Softbill Save Species Conservation Groups

Currently, the following FSS groups exist within NFSS Facebook sites:

If you have additional questions about a Finch or Softbill species you are working with, contact Finch and Softbill Save Director,

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