3 Bicheno (Owl Finches)

(Owl Finch)
Australian Grass Finch
Article & Photos by Alison Robertshaw
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2 Cock Hecks with Bicheno (Owl Finch)
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Bicheno Finch

  • The Bicheno Finch originates from Northern and Eastern regions of Australia.

  • It is also known as an Owl Finch or Double – Barred Finch.

  • The Bicheno is one of the smallest Australian finches being approximately 4 inches in size.

  • It is an attractive, distinctively marked bird.

  • The average lifespan is 5 – 7 years.

Knowledge and Care Needed

  • They need a bit more looking after than the Hecks Grassfinch

  • So, I would suggest Bicheno's are suited to more experienced bird keepers.
  • They need extra heat in colder conditions

    • Probably on similar lines to keeping Gouldians,

      • as they also need extra warmth and extra care than just the basics.

    • + you will need more awareness for potential problems when breeding

    • so, it would be an ideal Finch to move onto after you have started out and gained experience and knowledge with Bengalese or Hecks.

DietPICT0045sml.2..gif (130199 bytes)

  • Diet consists of foreign finch seed mix  

  • They readily take eggfood ( which I mix with cous cous )

  • They tend to not eat many greens.

  • Occasionally a spray of millet.

  • Always supply cuttlefish bone and oystershell grit.

Courtship display

  • Having observed the cock bird displaying to the hen

    • he held a piece of coconut fibre in his beak and jumped up and down many times,
      both feet leaving the floor.

  • They often do a lot of wiping their beak on the perch then sing turned towards the hen.


  • Can be housed in cages or indoor flights.

  • During Summer they may have access to an aviary.

  • During frosty conditions heating is required for the Birdroom.

  • They should not be exposed to cold, draughty, wet conditions.

     3 Bichenos + Cherry finch


  • The Bicheno is a social, peaceful bird.

  • It is compatible with other similar natured finches

    • eg. Star finches, Cherry finches, Bengalese, Gouldians etc.
       3 Bichenos + Bengalese


  • Can sometimes be difficult to sex visually.

  • Hens tend to have slightly narrower breast bands and a more of a creamy colour than white on the face compared to the cock.

  • Cocks seem to have wider black feathering above the beak.

  • If in doubt go by the cocks’ song.


  • I prefer to have them breeding during May – September.

  • Prior to breeding I feed them eggfood mixed with cous cous.

  • Provide them with a finch nest box or domed nest basket with coconut fibre as nest material.

  • Normally 4 - 6 eggs in a clutch.

Nesting Materials

  • I put some jute nesting material inside the nest basket before putting the nest in indoor flight /cage,
  • then put the coconut fibre on the floor
  • The birds then weave the coconut fibre round and round, lining the Nest basket.
  • Try to put the nest in high position and away from the cage front for more privacy.


  • They do not incubate the eggs until the 3rd or 4th egg is laid.

  • Both parents incubate the eggs, taking turns or both occupying the nest together.

  • Incubation 12 – 14 days

Feeding Parents to feed chicks

  • Provide eggfood

  • or eggfood mixed with cous cous and mini mealworms.

  • At 9 – 10 days of age the parents no longer brood the chicks during the day.

Peculiarities / Observations

  • They do not particularly tolerate nest–checks.

  • Sometimes foster parents are required,

    • ideally Bengalese finches.

  • In some cases the Bichenos fail to rear their young.

    • I experienced my Bichenos successfully feeding 3 chicks for 2 weeks

    • then to my dismay on entering the birdroom one day I found all 3 chicks dead on the floor
      of the indoor flight.

    • My guess is that they threw the young from the nest to concentrate on incubating further eggs,
      which had been laid.


  • The young normally fledge between 22 – 26 days of age.

  • I continue with providing Egg Food with cous cous,

    • slowly reducing the amount

  • I also offer spray millet and foreign finch seed mix.

Weaning the Chicks

  • Providing they are feeding themselves efficiently, they can be removed from their parents
    at 5 – 6 weeks of age.

  • Bicheno’s can breed from the age of 9 months

    • but it is advised to wait until they are older

    • as the hen could run into difficulties with egg–binding if not fully matured.

Ring sizes

  • Plastic split – XF

  • Closed and split aluminium - A

  • Closed Rings can be fitted at approximately 10 days


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