3 Bicheno (Owl Finches)

(Owl Finch)
Australian Grass Finch

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2 Cock Hecks with Bicheno (Owl Finch)

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


Member's Experience with Bicheno's

We have two little owl finch babies and they are now starting to peck around but still being fed by mum and dad.
We have more nesting so we hope to get some more babies. They live with our Zebras, Bengalese and Silverbills and all get on really well. They are cheerful little birds. We have tried for 3 years to breed them and then we found an Australian website
  www.finchsociety.org  which had loads of information on it about Bichenos. They told how to make a large mesh nesting unit which you made lots of small pigeon holes which you filled with straw and feathers and just let the owls do their own thing. We don't nest-check because they might abandon it if you do. We tried cages and nest boxes but the wire mesh unit has worked very well.


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