The Orange Bishop Weaver.
(Euplectes orix francisciana)
Suitability: These birds are another member of the Weaver family and a close relative to the Red Bishop although much smaller and rarer.
Unlike most Grassfinches the male of the species actually weaves a basket shaped nest for the hen to raise her family in. Unlike the Madagascar and even the Yellow (Napoleon) weavers these guys are generally placid in the mixed collection. One male may mate with many hens but best results are with Trios (2 hens to each cock). In this species the cocks tend to vary considerably in their desire to breed so be prepared to experiment.
They don’t tend to dominate weaker species and are best kept as pairs (trios if you can afford them!) in the mixed collection of finches. Their nests are far more hidden than that of the Red Bishop.
A standard finch mix, such as Golden Cob, will be readily taken and the addition of extra plain canary and white millet is appreciated.
When breeding the hen Weaver must have access to copious amounts of live food and the onset of the chick hatching is marked by the hen hovering around the live food bowl!
Usually only the hen feeds the young.
A word of warning is that if you do not wish to serve up copious amounts of live food please do not contemplate this species. One positive is they are not fussy as to what the live food is – maggots, crickets, moths, mealworms and termites are all readily eaten.
Do well on half-ripe green feed and relish the addition of most green feed to their diet especially when breeding.
Can be hard to find at times and hens are far more expensive than cocks.
Breeding: Weave their own nest on all occasions, usually in a growing tree or in the Tea-tree and I have never known them to use any type of nest box. Cotton wool is used by the hen to line the nesting chamber.
If your pair does not breed I recommend trying another male but not in the cage at the same time as this is usually going to be fatal for one of the males! The actual nest is usually built from coarse green grass – the leaves of Poa billardieria are favoured. (Tussock grass)
Recommended: These finches are not really suited to the beginner and even the long-timers experience trouble with getting them to breed and raise their chicks at time! Their nature and displays are out of this world and they invariably endear themselves to most finch keepers.
Dislike intently being in small cages and should only be caught up immediately prior to moving. Some will suffer so much stress that they will die! When transporting them ensure that their cage has a padded roof!
A good worming and coccidian regime is also recommended.
Mutations: There appears to be no mutations in these guys here in Australia.
Permit: A permit is not required to keep these finches in NSW.