Astrilde family - Estrildidae
The Astrilids are a family of songbirds from the order of Passeriformes. They live in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, South China, Australia, on the islands of the Malay archipelago and Oceania. They have small and medium sizes, body length - 8-17 cm. They differ in bright colors. They feed on the seeds of various herbs, some species - on insects. The Astrildeans have long been popular with bird lovers because of their exotic appearance and pleasant singing. The best singers are considered to be tiger astrildes and guild amadines.
The zebra amadina got its name from the combination of black and light stripes on the chest. The natural habitat of the zebra amadina covers all of Australia, with the exception of the most northern and southern regions of this continent. It lives on the plains, overgrown with grass, with solitary bushes and trees, likes to settle near the water. In the non-breeding period, it unites in flocks, making small migrations. It feeds on the seeds of herbs and other plants, collecting them on the ground.
A bottle-shaped nest is built from plant fibers and hay, lining the inside with a feather. In clutch 3-6 eggs of white color with a greenish tint. In drought, birds nest once a year or do not nest at all, but in a favorable year, nesting is repeated many times. After the departure of the chicks from the nest, the parents continue to live in it. The pair remains until the death of one of the partners. Zebra amadins are characterized by rapid puberty. In nature, their reproduction is noted at the age of six weeks.
Zebra amadina is one of the most beloved house birds. It was introduced to Europe from the Australian continent in the late 19th century and then domesticated. For a relatively short period of domestication (about 100 years), many artificial breeds and colors have been bred, but the natural color of zebra amadines remains the most beautiful and spectacular.
Origin of view and description
Photo: Zebra Amadina
These birds were first described and classified only at the end of the 18th century, when researchers reached Australia, the birthplace of zebra amadins. But naturally, zebra amadins, as a species, formed several thousand years ago and are quite adapted to the arid climate of the Australian bush. The fossilized remains of the Amadins date back to the 2nd millennium BC, and already in that distant era, these birds looked exactly the same as now.
Video: Zebra Amadina
In size and weight, Amadins are small birds, most reminiscent of the usual Russian sparrow. However, zebra amadins have several distinctive features that distinguish it from other birds of this species.
- the size of the zebra amadina does not exceed 12 centimeters,
- weight is about 12-15 grams,
- wingspan of the order of 15 centimeters,
- the bird lives for about 10 years, but in good conditions it can live up to 15 years,
- tiny round head
- small but thick beak. In males it is bright coral, in females it is orange,
- the paws are small, ideal for sitting on tree branches,
- the plumage of zebra amadins is very colorful and often has 5-6 different colors.
This species of birds is characterized by cheerfulness and love of life. Their sonorous and iridescent trills are able to cheer up anyone. The plumage of the zebra amadina is dense, the feathers are short and firmly pressed to the body. Cheeks of a bird have the color of a ripe chestnut, but the chest and neck have a striped zebra pattern. As a rule, the amadina’s tummy is white, and the legs are pale orange.
Appearance and features
Photo: What does a zebra amadina look like?
Zebra amadines are considered one of the most beautiful in the passerine family. Their appearance depends not only on the subspecies to which they belong, but also on the area in which they live. Zebra amadines are divided into two subspecies: mainland and island. Mainland birds live throughout Australia with the exception of the most remote and arid regions of the continent, where there is simply no water.
Island zebra amadins live on almost the entire Sunda Islands archipelago. According to one version, the birds got there, independently flying several hundred kilometers from Australia. According to another version, they were brought there by ancient sailors and for hundreds of years they have completely adapted to life on small, exotic islands. Significant populations of zebra amadins live on the islands of Timor, Sumba and Flores.
In its appearance, zebra amadins are most reminiscent of a brightly colored sparrow. And if the back, head and neck are ash or gray, then the cheeks are brightly colored and stand out very well on the gray plumage. White feathers on the abdomen give the birds an elegant look, making it very beautiful and attractive.
It is worth noting the fact that the island and mainland subspecies are different from each other. The continental zebra amadins are slightly larger in size, live in huge schools (up to 500 individuals) and can do without water for several days. In turn, the inhabitants of the islands are smaller, live in flocks of 20-30 individuals and are much more sensitive to lack of water.
Empirically, it was proved that the coloring of the bird is directly related to its character. So, the amadins in the plumage of which there is a red color have a squabbling character and often fight. In turn, birds with meeting black birds are more curious. They are the first to fly to the feeder and the first to go explore new territories.
Interesting fact: The ratio of the number of mainland and island birds is approximately 80% / 20%. Mainland zebra amadins are much more common and they are most often bred at home. Island Amadins are considered exotic, and, as a rule, are not found among bird lovers. You can see them only by visiting the Sunda Islands.
Where does the zebra amadin live?
Photo: Zebra Amadina in nature
Despite the very beautiful appearance and elegant appearance, zebra amadines are very hardy and unpretentious. They prefer to nest on spacious plains with rare interspersed trees, on the outskirts of large forests and in the Australian bush, overgrown with tall shrubs.
A prerequisite for nesting zebra amadina is the presence of water. Birds should have unhindered access to water, and therefore they always settle close to a river or a small lake. Birds can easily withstand huge temperature fluctuations (from +15 to +40), but almost immediately die at temperatures below +10 degrees Celsius. Another prerequisite for living amadina is a warm climate.
Birds can easily withstand 5-7 days without water, and are able to drink very salty water without harm to their health. Living on small islands, zebra amadins prefer to settle far from the sea, as strong sea breezes prevent birds from flying normally. They nest in the depths of the islands, close to water sources. Island Amadins are less hardy than their mainland counterparts, but also able to live without moisture for several days.
In the 20th century, birds were brought to California and Portugal, where they took root perfectly and adapted to local weather conditions. In their habits, they do not differ from the continental zebra insects, and so far have not been isolated in a separate subspecies.
Now you know where the zebra amadin lives. Let’s see what this bird eats.
What does the zebra amadine eat?
Photo: A Pair of Zebra Amadins
In nature, zebra amadine feeds predominantly on plant or cereal seeds. Moreover, in order to obtain food, the birds gather in large flocks (up to 100 pieces) and fly to fishing. In addition, sand and even small pebbles, which promote proper digestion and help digest hard grains, are eaten as a mineral fertilizer for birds.
I must say that under natural conditions, the diet of zebra amadina is very limited and all their lives birds eat about the same thing. Of particular note is the fact that even during the period of hatching, the birds do not feed on insects and do not need an additional source of protein. But at home, the diet of zebra amadina is much richer. Actually, this explains the fact that in conditions of keeping in the cage, birds live 1.5-2 times longer.
You can feed zebra amadins:
- special mixes for exotic birds (which includes millet),
- soft foods that birds do not receive in the wild. In particular, you can give soft cottage cheese, slices of boiled eggs and even a little boiled rice,
- vegetables (cucumber or zucchini),
- peeled black seeds.
The zebra amadine menu should contain minerals. You can buy special vitamin complexes in which mineral supplements are present, or you can give eggs to eggs or calcined chalk 2 times a week.
Interesting fact: Zebra amadine is a very voracious bird. In the natural environment, it is limited in nutrition, and at home, the bird must be artificially limited in food. It is necessary to give food 2 times a day and strictly dose the portion size. Otherwise, the bird will quickly gain excess weight, which will affect her health in the most sad way.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Male Zebra Amadina
Zebra madadins have a very cheerful and cheerful disposition. They are restless, nimble and can jump from branch to branch a dozen times per minute. A key feature of the Amadin lifestyle is that zebra Amadins are flocking birds. Even in captivity, it is recommended to start at least 4 zebra amadines, since two (and even more so one) birds will be sad and bored.
Despite the natural curiosity and love of life, zebra amadins shun man. Even poultry born and raised in captivity are stressed when a person takes them in his hand. Experienced breeders do not recommend taking amadines in their hands too often, as the birds are very nervous at the same time.
Despite the fact that birds live in large flocks, they fly to hunt in separate groups of 20-30 individuals. Moreover, the Amadins have different sites where they collect grains and cereals, and these sites do not overlap.
Interesting fact: Although birds live in large flocks, they all know each other very well. And if a strange bird from another flock tries to grind together among the Amadins, then they simply push it out and will not let it even spend the night.
Particularly touching is the moment of the night of the birds, when several dozen individuals spend the night on one branch, closely clinging to each other.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Female Zebra Amadina
In the wild, zebra amadins do not have a distinct breeding season. Birds can mate several times a year, and the breeding season is entirely dependent on the amount of moisture. The deeper the rivers and ponds, the more often the Amadins will breed chicks.
Puberty begins in zebra amadins from 6 months. At this age, the bird is considered quite adult and ready for mating games and laying eggs.
The male attracts the female with sonorous trills, and she preliminarily jumps from branch to branch for a long time, making it possible to admire herself. If the female takes courtship from the male, then they proceed to the joint construction of the nest.
Interesting fact: Ornithologists have found that Amadins must choose their own partners. If you try to cross a couple artificially, holding them together for a long time, they will build a nest and the female will lay eggs, but immediately after the birth of the chicks, the parents will lose all interest in them. Related to this are problems with the hybridization of different types of amadins.
Building a nest takes about a week. It has a bottle shape and is usually built from dry grass and small twigs. Inside, the nest is lined with soft feathers. The number of eggs in the nest also depends on the climate. If there is enough moisture, up to 8 eggs are laid before the bird, and if the weather is dry, then there will be no more than 3-4 eggs. Hatching eggs takes 12-14 days.
Chicks are born without fluff and feathers, as well as blind. Parents feed them in turn, bringing food in their beaks. However, after 20-25 days, the chicks fly out of the nest, and after another month they are completely ready for adulthood. Zebra amadins are characterized by very rapid maturation, and by the 5th month of life, the chicks are no different from adults, and at 6 months they are ready to start their own offspring.
Natural Enemies of the Zebra Amadina
Photo: What does a zebra amadina look like?
In nature, birds have enough enemies. Despite the fact that in Australia there are not many predatory animals, many Amadins die during the first year of life.
The main enemies of the birds:
Lizards and snakes do a lot of damage to bird clutches. These creatures climb trees perfectly and can easily reach the place where the bird's nest is located. Zebra amadins cannot protect the nest and therefore predators eat eggs with absolute impunity.
But birds of prey (hawks, gyrfalcons) prey on adults. Zebra insects fly in packs, and winged predators with a high diving speed perfectly catch small birds, despite their small size and agility in the air.
The large red ants found in Australia can also cause great harm to birds. The sizes of red Australian ants are such that they can carry eggs into the nest or bite through its shell. Cats can also prey on birds and destroy masonry. This usually happens if the birds create nests very close to the human home.
In recent years, a construction boom has begun in Australia, and new residential complexes are being built in the suburbs of large cities, in places where amadins are constantly nesting. This caused the birds to migrate deep into the continent, in the driest regions of Australia.
Population and species status
Photo: Zebra Amadina
The zebra population is considered to be one of the largest in Australia, and ornithologists do not predict a significant reduction in the near future. At the end of 2017, only 2 million individuals lived in Australia alone. For Australians, zebra madadins are as common and familiar as gray sparrows for Russians and do not cause the slightest interest.
Despite the large number of natural enemies, the birds are very prolific and can bring up to 4 offspring per year, which easily compensates for the natural loss of individuals. Things are slightly worse with the island zebra amadins. They are much smaller, and they are less hardy, but they are not threatened with extinction. According to scientists, about 100 thousand birds live on the Sunda Islands.
Also, do not forget that zebra madadas feel great in California, Puerto Rico and Portugal. A large number of birds live there, and they feel great in the new conditions.
Moreover, zebra amadina feels great in captivity, easily bred in an ordinary city apartment, and then adapt perfectly in the wild. In the case of the slightest threat, the populations of these birds can be quickly bred in artificial conditions and released into the wild.
Zebra Amadina - Taeniopygia guttata
Catalan: Diamant zebrat
Czech: zebřička pestrá
German: Sonda Zebrafink, Timorzebraamadine, Zebrafink
English: Sonda Island zebra finch, Timor Zebra Finch, Zebra Finch, Zebra Finch (Lesser Sundas)
Spanish: Diamante Cebra de Timor, Pinzón Cebra
French: Diamant à gorge grise, Diamant de Timor, Mandarin de Timor
Irish: Glasán séabrach
Hebrew: זברה פינק
Indonesian: Pipit Zebra
Italian: Diamante mandarino, Diamante mandarino delle Isole Sonda, Fringuello zebrato
Latin: Peophila guttata guttata, Poephila guttata guttata, Taeniopygia guttata, Taeniopygia guttata guttata, Taenopygia guttata guttata
Lithuanian: Zebrinė amadina
Norwegian: Sebrafink, Sundaastrild
Polish: zeberka (zwyczajna), Zeberka zwyczajna
English: Zebra Amadina, Spotted Amadina
Slovak: zebricka cervenozobá, Zebrička červenozobá
Turkish: Zebra İspinozu