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Tiny Amaranth (Lagonosticta senegala)

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| Lagonosticta senegala

The length of the tiny amaranth is 100 mm, the third part falls on the tail. They are distributed from the borders of the Sahara and the Nubian deserts to the provinces of Natal and Transvaal in South Africa. They live in tall grass and thorny shrubs in dry steppes and savannahs, sparse with bushes, together with the Astrades of the genus Uraeginthus, with other species of amaranth, with sparrows and small widows, which, taking advantage of the unlimited trustfulness of tiny amaranths, lay their eggs in their nests . These amaranths settle near and even inside villages and villages, in gardens, kitchen gardens and even on houses. These gullible birds jump a few steps from a person, peck food along with chickens or collect sprinkled grains from stalls. It happens that they fly inside the premises. They build their nests in hollows of trees, in dense shrubs, in dense tall grass and even on all possible buildings and on the roofs of huts. Nests are always spherical with a lateral inlet hole - letok. Building material is hay, leaves and grass roots. Inside, the nest is lined with feathers (usually white). They feed on dry and semi-mature seeds of various herbs and small insects.

There are nine geographical forms of tiny amaranths, slightly differing in color. The Senegalese form, widespread from Senegal and the Gambia to the northern and central regions of Nigeria, is considered the main (minative) one.

The male of this form has a head, throat, lower part of the neck, the entire lower part of the body is dark red-brown with several small white specks located across the lower part of the chest. The top of the hull is brown, the nuftail and the upper tail coverts are red, the tail is black. Around the eyes a creamy circle. The beak is red, the base is lighter, the legs are brown-red.

The female is all brown. The upper part is darker, the lower is lighter. Upper tail covering tail, beak and circle around the eye, like a male.

The chicks are gray-brown, only the bridle, the mantle and the upper tail coverts are dull red. The beak is black. The ring around the eye appears only after molting.

Tiny amaranths of the Cameroonian form live on the northern highlands of Cameroon to the eastern regions of Nigeria. In birds of this form, the red plumage is brighter than in birds of a nominative form, and the lower part of the body is buffy-yellow-brown. The female is colored in the same way as the female of the nominative form, only her plumage is more dull.

In the male of the Nigerian form, the upper part of the body is earthy-brown without any redness, and the red color of the overcoat and upper tail coverts is more dull. The lower tail coverts and ear coverts are buffy brown. In the female, the plumage of the upper part of the body is dull yellowish-brown-gray, and the lower - gray-yellow. These birds inhabit the northeastern part of Nigeria.

Northern birds are also called brown-tailed amaranth. In the male, the upper part of the body is earthy-brown, sometimes with a reddish tinge. In the female, the upper and lower parts of the body are painted in olive-gray-brown color. They live in the northern part of the tropical zone of Africa.

The male of the Somali form has an upper part of the body with a pinkish-red tinge, a tail and a lower tail covering are dull gray-brown. Birds live in Somalia.

Birds of the eastern form differ from birds of the S ¬ Malian less gray and more yellow-brown general color. Sometimes their abdomen and lower tail coverts are yellowish. And the females are darker, yellower and smaller than the females of the previous form. They live in the territory from the southern regions of Kenya to the northern regions of Mozambique.

Amaranths of the southeastern form are very similar to Somali-shaped birds and differ only in that the female and the male have the same number of white specks and are located not on the sides of the chest, but are more abundant in its center. They live in southern Tanzania, Zimbabwe, in the northern regions of Mozambique and in the southeastern regions of Zambia.

The distribution boundaries of the southwestern form are not precisely defined. It is only known that representatives of this form are found in the west and south of the distribution zone of tiny amaranth. They have all the plumage shiny, as if varnished. The chest is a little grayish, and the rest of the lower part of the body, right down to the lower tail coverts, is white.

The birds of the Central African form are called magnificent amaranths. The male has a magnificent tiny amaranth; the upper and lower parts of the head are carmine red, the nape and cheeks are brown, the sides of the head and the lower part of the body are with strong red, to wine red, tint. According to F. Robiller, in most cases there are no white dots on the sides of the chest, although sometimes they can be. The bottom of the abdomen and the lower tail coverts are gray-brown to gray, in addition, a narrow white strip crosses the lower tail coverts across.

The female is olive-gray-brown and also does not have white dots in the plumage of the breast, and if it does, then a very small amount ..

These amaranth live in two vast areas of Africa. One zone covers the territory from the southern regions of Sudan to the northwestern and western shores of Lake Tanganyika, the second from the northeastern regions of Zambia and the northwestern regions of Mali in the east to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the southern part of Angola in the west.

Tiny amaranth has long been a favorite among European amateurs. Despite the fact that for the first time these birds were imported to Europe in the 18th century and in 1790 the Englishman Vienllot without any difficulties succeeded in breeding them, the demand in the European poultry market does not fall on them. These peaceful birds are the most undemanding of all amaranths. They easily tolerate a decrease in temperature to 4 ° C, and at a temperature of 25 ° C they begin to nest without much difficulty, although they can be allowed to nest and at 20 ° C. Wintering normally proceeds at 15 ° C. Tiny amaranths are not very demanding of the room and can be contained both in the aviary and in the cage. In a large cage, they feel no worse than in an aviary. But if there is an opportunity, it is better to keep them in a well-equipped aviary. Considering that most of the time these birds spend on the ground, an aviary needs to be arranged so that the plants are located in its rear part and at the side walls, and the mid-core remains free, not planted.

Wherever tiny amaranths are kept, they are always very cheerful and agile. In general, an aviary is always friendly to all birds, even to individuals of its kind. True, sometimes, according to F. Robiller, there are grumpy individuals quarreling with individuals of their kind, but this is very rare. Basically, the male starts a quarrel when the female is in the nest.

Singing, like many representatives of the Astrid family, the tiny amaranth is very quiet, barely audible. He makes a pleasant whistle without opening his beak. In case of anxiety, he publishes a sharp warning “check-check”, to which all other birds in the aviary or in the bird's room react with anxiety and internal stress, ready to fly up or take advantage of the nearest shelter at the first danger. When excited, the tiny amaranths nervously jerk their tail up and down, as our nuthatch always does, but the tail is shorter at the nuthatch.

Tiny amaranths nest very easily. In our country, Muscovites S. M. Kudryavtsev and A. V. Antonov achieved the first results with cell content. In Antonov, the birds nested in a cage measuring 80 X 50 X 40 cm and they themselves hatched and fed the chicks. The chicks grew strong and healthy. Tiny amaranths are most likely to nest in hollows and nest boxes, but they never back down from the rule and always build a nest in the form of a ball limited by the size of the box. As a building material they are offered soft straw, hay, grass and feathers. When the nest is almost ready, the wedding games begin. The male performs a wedding dance, like the red-eared Astrild. With a stalk in its beak, softly whistling or in complete silence, the male rhythmically rides near the female. When mating, he grabs the female with its beak by the feathers on the back of the head.

In clutch there are usually 4-5 eggs, but more often 4. Both parents take part in the incubation, alternating throughout the day. At night, only the female sits, and the male sleeps on a branch near the nest. Incubation lasts 11 days. Chicks are born with gray-brown skin, covered with whitish fluff. In their mouth there are three black dots on the white field of the upper palate, and on the inside of the mandible there is a horseshoe-shaped figure. A moving yellow tongue is visible in the center of the pharynx. Bright and mobile, it causes the instinct of feeding in parents. And so that parents can accurately find their small mouths, in the corners of the small beaks there are very distinct white and blue papillas, which in the dark nest reflect insignificant rays of penetrating light. Chicks beg for food, making the sounds of "vin-ven." Adult birds feed the chicks very carefully, however, if there is a lack of diverse animal feed, they can throw them out of the nest. At this time, you need to especially carefully monitor the birds. A.V. Antonov, for example, threw discarded chicks back into the nest. If the parents again ¬ threw the chicks, then he again returned the chicks to the nest, etc. In such cases, the birds often stop throwing the chicks and successfully feed them.

Although tiny amaranths are not demanding on food, however, food needs to be diversified, especially during nesting. They are fed with different varieties of millet, moghar and chumiza both in dry and in the form of nodule. Tiny amaranths are always happy to eat animal feed and eagerly eat it. Usually they are given an egg mixture with the addition of grated carrots, flour worms. Like most astrildean, large flour-worms, they suck out, and swallow whole small ones or cut into pieces. A.V. Antonov fed his chicks, using animal feed, consisting exclusively of egg mixture with the addition of chopped flour worms or bloodworms - red larvae of mosquitoes of the family centipedes. At the age of 18 days, the chicks fly out of the nest, and their parents feed them for another 2 weeks. A large proportion of worries at this time lies with the male, since the female at this time usually already sits on the next laying. Senior chicks can not be sent to another room, as their parents do not pursue them. It is enough to hang a second duplyanka in the cage, in which the chicks will spend the night.

Typically, the sex of birds is determined immediately after molting, which in young birds ends in 6 months. Moreover, in each nest there are more males than females. It is generally accepted that males lovers have 3 times more than females, therefore females are much more valuable.

Czech specialist and expert on the astilda R. Wit writes that tiny amaranth can be accustomed to free flight from the enclosure to nature. To spend the night they return to the aviary.

Hybrids were obtained with red-tailed astrilde, zebra amadina, gray astrilde, with dark red and speckled amaranth.

Tiny amaranth_lagonosticta senegala

The length of the tiny amaranth is 100 mm, the third part falls on the tail. They are distributed from the borders of the Sahara and the Nubian deserts to the provinces of Natal and Transvaal in South Africa. They live in tall grass and thorny shrubs in dry steppes and savannahs, sparse with bushes, together with the Astrades of the genus Uraeginthus, with other species of amaranth, with sparrows and small widows, which, using the unlimited trust of tiny amaranths, lay their eggs in their nests. These amaranth settle near and even inside the village and villages, in gardens, kitchen gardens and even on houses. These gullible birds jump a few steps from a person, peck food along with chickens or collect loose grain from stalls. It happens that they fly inside the premises. They build their nests in hollows of trees, in dense shrubs, in dense tall grass and even on all kinds of buildings and on the roofs of huts. The nests are always spherical with a side opening - notch. The building material is hay, leaves and grass roots. Inside, the nest is lined with feathers (usually white). They feed on dry and semi-mature seeds of various herbs and small insects. There are nine geographical forms of tiny amaranths, which differ slightly in color. The main (nominative) consider the Senegalese form, distributed from Senegal and the Gambia to the northern and central regions of Nigeria.

The male of this form has a head, throat, lower part of the neck, the entire lower part of the body is dark red-brown with several small white specks located across the lower part of the chest. The top of the hull is brown, the nuftail and the upper tail coverts are red, the tail is black. Around the eyes a creamy circle. The beak is red, lighter to the base, legs brownish red. The female is all brown. The upper part is darker, the lower is lighter. The tail covering the tail, the beak and the circle around the eye, like a male. The chicks are gray-brown, only the bridle, the mantle and the upper tail coverts are dull red. The beak is black. The ring around the eye appears only after molting. Amaranths of the southeastern form are very similar to Somali-shaped birds and differ only in that the female and the male have the same number of white specks and are located not on the sides of the chest, but are more abundant in its center. They live in southern Tanzania, in Zimbabwe in the northern regions of Mozambique and in the southeastern regions of Zambia. The distribution boundaries of the southwestern form are not precisely defined. It is only known that representatives of this form are found in the west and in the south of the distribution zone of tiny amaranth. They have all the plumage shiny, as if varnished. The chest is a little grayish, and the rest of the lower part of the body, right down to the lower tail coverts, is white. The birds of the Central African form are called magnificent amaranths. The male has a magnificent tiny amaranth, the upper and lower parts of the head are carmine-red, the nape and cheeks are brown, the sides of the head and the lower part of the body are strong red, to a wine-red tint.
Tiny amaranth has long been a favorite among European amateurs. Despite the fact that for the first time these birds were introduced into Europe in the 18th century and in 1790 the Englishman Vienllot without any difficulties achieved success in their breeding, the demand for them in the European bird market does not fall. These peaceful birds are the most undemanding of all amaranths. They easily tolerate a decrease in temperature to 4 ° C, and at a temperature of 25 ° C they begin to nest without much difficulty, although they can be allowed to nest at 20 ° C. Wintering normally proceeds at 15 ° C. Tiny amaranths are not very demanding on the premises and can be kept both in the aviary and in the cage. In a large cage, they feel no worse than in an aviary. But if possible, it is best to keep them in a well-equipped aviary. Given that most of the time these birds spend on the ground, the enclosure should be arranged so that the plants are located in its rear part and at the side walls, and the middle remains free, not planted.

Wherever tiny amaranths are kept, they are always very cheerful and agile. In general, an aviary is always friendly to all birds, even to individuals of its kind. True, sometimes, according to F. Robiller, there are grumpy individuals quarreling with individuals of their kind, but this is very rare. Basically, the male starts a quarrel when the female is in the nest. The singing, like many representatives of the Astrilde family, in the tiny amaranth is very quiet, barely audible. He makes a pleasant whistle without opening his beak.When disturbed, issues a sharp warning “check-check”, to which all the other birds in the aviary or in the bird's room react with anxiety and internal stress, ready at the first danger to take off or take advantage of the nearest shelter. When excited, tiny amaranths nervously jerk their tail up and down, as our nuthatch always does, but the tail is shorter for the nuthatch. Tiny amaranths nest very easily.

Seven species of African finch weavers, the males of which are painted mainly in red, are classified as amaranth of taxonomy. This group of birds includes, in addition to ordinary, tiny, amaranth, punctata, dark red, pink, large punctata, rare and larval amaranth. Fans often succeed in acquiring ordinary, or tiny, Senegalese amaranth. Ornithologists have nine subspecies of common amaranth, differing in some details of color.

In the male of the common amaranth, the head, lower back, mantle and the entire lower side of the body are carmine-red. The back and wings are brown. Tiny white dots are scattered on the sides of the chest. The beak is light, with a pink tint. The female with the same small white specks on the sides of the chest, but brown. Between her beak and eyes, her plumage is reddish. The length of the bird is 10 centimeters.

The habitat of this species is vast. It extends from Senegal to eastern Africa along the southern border of the Sahara right up to Sudan and Ethiopia. From the borders of these two countries, it expands southward, capturing Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Amaranths are inhabitants of dry savannas with grassy and shrubby vegetation. They are especially eager to stay in the prickly thickets of acacias, confined to the banks and drying river beds. In some places, the border of their distribution reaches the borders of the desert. Neighborhood with humans, these birds do not avoid. In many villages and on the outskirts of cities, you can see them jumping around the yard among domestic chickens or picking up dropped grains in the bazaar and near the store. These birds are so gullible that they often fly into open windows, and sometimes even nest inside residential buildings. The main natural food for amaranth is the seeds of various herbs and small insects.

Amaranth nests in a wide variety of places: in a shallow shrub low above the ground and in. curtains of grass, in the recesses of coastal slopes, in dense hedges, under the rafters of roofs and verandas, in the grass walls of huts and - as we have already said - even inside buildings. The amaranth nest is closed from above, thick-walled, with a small side entrance. Birds build it from dry grass and thin roots. Inside, the nest is abundantly lined with animal hair and small feathers. Interestingly, the same nest is often used twice by birds. In a clutch there are usually 4 eggs, occasionally 6, but one or two of them often turn out to be unfertilized. Both birds incubate masonry alternately for 11-12 days. The normal exit of chicks from the nest occurs on the 17-18th day after hatching. An alarmed brood can leave the nest two to three days ahead of schedule.

The import of amaranth into Western Europe began in the 18th century. Beautiful and peaceful, they immediately won the sympathy of lovers and soon became one of the most common indoor birds. Amaranths are thermophilic birds. This should be remembered when keeping them in captivity. Cold night-time dampness is especially frightening for them, since they, unlike many other heat-loving finch weavers, do not have a habit to sleep in shelter. Cold and damp are even more dangerous for their chicks. For this reason, in a temperate climate, amaranth can be kept in outdoor enclosures only in the warmest summer months (or rather days), when the air temperature does not drop below plus 18 degrees.

Amaranths are peaceful and get along well in common cages with other species of finch weavers. But the pair beginning to breeding should always be planted. These birds get used to people quickly and therefore can easily nest in a relatively small cage, for example, 60x30x30 centimeters in size.

Like other birds, the amaranth's readiness for breeding is expressed in the unusual anxiety of the female, now and then flying from perch to perch, and in the mating of the male. The current amaranth bounces very gracefully and easily in one place, fluffing the plumage of the abdomen and holding a blade of grass in its beak, always at the very tip. Sometimes he dances not silently, but with singing, making pleasant and rather loud sounds. At this time, you need to give the birds a normal nesting house, partially filled from the bottom and sides with soft moss and thin dry grass. In addition, the same moss and grass, as well as necessarily wool (sheep, goat), are recommended to be scattered along the bottom of the cage or strengthen with bunches near the perches. You can put a little gray cotton wool and small feathers in the cage. Of all this material, the birds - mainly the male - will make a nest in the house. As in the wild, both birds incubate eggs alternately. Usually they only warm the clutch and chicks continuously for the first week, and then they begin to leave them alone more and more often. Hatching lasts 12-13 days. At the age of 17-18 days, chicks leave the nest. They are brown with black beaks. In 10-12 days, young people begin to feed on their own. At the age of one and a half months, the first red feathers appear in some places in the plumage of males.

In no case should the female be allowed to make more than two or three clutches per year. If she still continues to show a desire for reproduction, then she must be separated from the male. In general, it should be borne in mind that female amaranth in captivity live significantly worse than males. They are more likely to die from disease and poor nutrition. In addition, many females are very difficult to lay eggs, which can also be the cause of death of the bird. It is believed that such phenomena are primarily associated with a lack of solar radiation.

Amaranth needs to be fed only with medium-sized millet, if possible using its smallest varieties, as well as moghar and chumizu. In the summer, in the cage with these birds, be sure to put the bouquets of our meadow cereals with spikelets, as well as the leaves of the garden salad and wood lice. In winter they give grated carrots and white cabbage. As animal feed can be used bloodworms, chopped larvae of flour flour, chrysalis of small earthen ants, aphids, large daphnia (the latter are served in a small vessel with water). Some individuals also eat boiled chicken eggs. In large larvae of grubs, amaranths eat only heads.

Foreign lovers specially attract fruit flies-Drosophila into open-air cages and establish their breeding here to feed nesting birds, and sometimes, where climatic conditions permit, they simply open the aviary's door to the garden. Amaranths show such great affection for nesting chicks that, having flown into the garden in search of insects and seeds, each time they return to the nest to feed the chicks. But before the young leave the nest, the enclosure is closed so that the birds do not take the brood away. Western European amateurs do the same with some other species of finch weavers, in which attachment to the nest with chicks is highly developed. But such a release of birds is possible only at a time when there are chicks in the nest, and only if there is vegetation attractive to the birds in the immediate vicinity of the aviary: a bush and a lot of grass gaining spike.

References: Exotic birds in our house, E. Lukina

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