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Senegal or Red-billed Fire Finch
(Lagonosticta senegala)

The Senegal or Red-billed Fire Finch (Lagonosticta senegala) is a 3¾-4″ delightful and attractive addition to the aviary. It is a free breeder in captivity, having the great advantage of being visually sexable.

The adult male has a red bill with a faint black stripe down the centers of both upper and lower mandibles. A yellow eye ring is very prominent, especially in older birds. The deep glossy red on the head and chest fades into a dull brown at the lower end of the abdomen, vent and undertail coverts. The underside of the tail is dark brownish-gray. Several white spots mark the red sides of the chest. Feet and legs are light brown.

The upperside is mostly brown starting in the center of the rear crown. The rump is bright red, and there are traces of red near the shoulders. The wings and tail are darker brown.

Females are nearly all brown, paler on the undersides and darker on the uppersides. The eye ring is absent, but the bill is the same as in the male. The white spots on the sides and flanks are slightly more numerous than in the male and are sprinkled on the chest. However, because of the duller background they are less distinct.

Immature birds are like the female, but lack the red eyebrow and white spots. By the time these features start to appear, the males will start showing a few red feathers.

Incubation of the 3 to 5 white eggs is usually twelve to thirteen days, and the young leave the nest between seventeen to twenty-one days.

A 50/50 finch seed and wild seed is ideal. They also appreciate soaked finch seed, egg food, fresh greens, vegetables and mealworms. A variety of live food should be offered when they are nesting and raising their young.

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