Amandava amandavared avadavat

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Geographic Range

Red avadavats can be found throughout southern and southeastern Asia, from India to the Malay Peninsula and surrounding islands. These birds have been successfully introduced to the Philippines, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. (Goodwin, 1982)

Habitat

Red avadavats are found in grassy areas, such as jungle clearings, gardens, and meadows. They also frequent sugarcane fields and areas near bodies of water, such as marshes. Red avadavats are accustomed to tropical temperatures and will lose plumage intensity in cooler, dryer environments. ("avadavat", 2009; "Red Avadavat", 2009; Goodwin, 1982)

Physical Description

Red avadavats are about 10.16 centimeters in length (3 to 4 inches). ("avadavat", 2009; "avadavat", 2009; "avadavat", 2009; "avadavat", 2009)

Males and females molt into breeding plumage each year. During the breeding season males have a deep red crown and back, and there are white streaks under the eyes. The sides of the head, down the breast and the undersides are scarlet. The wings, tail overfeathers, and flanks are dark red with white spots. The tail feathers are black. The beaks of the males are red. When females go into the breeding season they often molt and the chest and underbelly become a brighter yellow-orange. ("Red Avadavat", 2009; Goodwin, 1982; Harrison, 1962)

At the end of the breeding season, males begin to molt to a plumage that resembles the coloration of females. The color of the underbelly ranges from a creamy tan to creamy yellow, and there are black streaks under the eyes. The crown, back, wings and tail are dark brown with fewer white spots than males in breeding season. Juveniles of this species are dull grayish brown all over. This is the first molt from the nestling stage. Nestlings are marked by dark skin and down, and have markings around the mouth. (Goodwin, 1982)

Red avadavats have been introduced into many countries as a cage bird. Under poor conditions, plumage coloring loses its intensity. When they are kept at warm temperatures (40 degrees Celsius), kept in sunlight, and fed appropriately, the plumage will remain bright. (Goodwin, 1982)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range length
    10.16 (high) cm
    4.00 (high) in
  • Average wingspan
    49 cm
    19.29 in

Reproduction

Male red avadavats use their bright red plumage in addition to a mating dance to attract females. The dance begins with males, a grass stem or feather in their mouth, deeply bowing with feathers erect. Usually the birds sing and hop between bows. Both males and females display. When the birds have paired, they separate from the larger group to build a nest. Red avadavats are monogamous within a breeding season, but no information could be found on potential life long monogamy. (Harrison, 1962; Langham, 1987; Harrison, 1962; Langham, 1987; Harrison, 1962; Langham, 1987; Goodwin, 1982; Harrison, 1962; Langham, 1987)

In captive birds, males who are paired will mimic a display similar to begging of fledging young followed by an attack if a female or other bird comes too close. Females will display aggression against other females as well as brown males if a male in breeding plumage is present. (Goodwin, 1982)

Red avadavats breed in the second half of the rainy season and into the following dry season. Breeding months vary regionally. Males begin molting into their bright red plumage as the breeding season begins. Out of the breeding season, males often do not entirely lose their red plumage before beginning molting for the breeding season. Breeding pairs have between 4 to 6 eggs in a clutch. The eggs take around 11 days to hatch; hatchlings take around 20 days to fledge. (Goodwin, 1982; Langham, 1987)

  • Breeding interval
    Red avadavats breed once a year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding can occur from January to April, varying regionally.
  • Range eggs per season
    4 to 6
  • Average time to hatching
    11 days
  • Average fledging age
    20 days

The eggs of Amandava amandava are incubated by both parents during the day. Females usually take over at night. Before fertilization, both males and females collect grass and sticks to create a nest. The nest is lined with soft feathers, tree cotton (found inside seed pods of trees of genus Bombax) and grass. Parents exhibit aggressive behaviors if another bird of the same or a different species gets too close to the nest. Both parents feed nestlings. If females produce another clutch before the first set of young are able to care for themselves, males will take charge of feeding the young. ("Red Avadavat", 2009; Goodwin, 1982)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

No information could be found on lifespan in natural or captive environments. (Goodwin, 1982)

Behavior

When not in the breeding season, red avadavats stay in large social flocks of up to 100 birds. The term for this gathering is clumping. During this time they engage in social preening (grooming) which may serve to create and maintain bonds. Allopreening is also common among breeding pairs and between non-breeding males and females. However, mated males and females show aggression towards other conspecific males and females. Red avadavats can perch upright between two vertical posts. This is a product of having a large grip and ability to extend the legs in opposite directions. (Goodwin, 1982; Harrison, 1962; Sparks, 1963)

Nestlings often perform a "begging" behavior for food. They may perform a variety of behaviors from simply opening their mouths in a resting posture to wing fluttering. Adults will not usually adopt fledglings in the wild, unless their own fledglings are ready to leave the nest. (Goodwin, 1982)

Home Range

Little information can be found on the home range of red avadavats in nature. They are not a migratory bird. Red avadavats protect the nest, but when not in the breeding season they live in large groups. They nest and remain close to the ground, generally. (Goodwin, 1982)

Communication and Perception

Red avadavats have long vocalizations used as location calls. Females have a shorter, softer version of the call, and use it less often. Both males and females of the species use voclizations during mating displays. At the start of the breeding season, males change their plumage from brown to red. When red avadavats are displaying aggressive behaviors they will use a shrill call. A higher pitched call is used when members of the species perceive danger to their young. Young learn songs from their fathers while in the nest. (Goodwin, 1982; Harrison, 1962)

Food Habits

Red avadavats feed on a variety of food sources. In captivity red avadavats prefer seeds from sprouting millet. When feeding young, they prefer ant larvae and pupae, centipedes and caterpillars. They are known mainly as ground feeders. ("Red Avadavat", 2009; Goodwin, 1982)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts

Predation

To protect against predation, red avadavats stay in large groups, especially during the non-breeding season. Also, when they are alarmed, they move their tails from side to side and at a down angle. During the non-breeding season, brightly colored males lose their plumage and become brown, much like the females. This brown plumage may serve as camouflage during the dry season. Both breeding and non-breeding birds use a shrill call if they perceive danger, warning other group members. There is little information on predators of red adavavats. (Goodwin, 1982; Harrison, 1962; Sparks, 1963)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Because red avadavats feed on seeds and small insects, they likely have a role in seed dispersal as well as pest control. They are also prey for larger predators. There is little additional information on the roles red avadavats have on the ecosystem. ("Red Avadavat", 2009)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Red avadavats are popular cage birds. Common names in the pet trade are strawberry finch or strawberry waxbill. The name originates from the scarlet red of the neck, chest, and underbelly, as well as their white spots. (Goodwin, 1982)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Amandava amandava on humans.

Conservation Status

According to the IUCN Red List red avadavats are an animal of least concern because of their large population size and large geographic range.

Contributors

Sarah Weitzel (author), James Madison University, Suzanne Baker (editor, instructor), James Madison University, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

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acoustic

uses sound to communicate

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

granivore

an animal that mainly eats seeds

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Finchinfo.com. 2009. "Red Avadavat" (On-line). Finch Information Center. Accessed April 11, 2009 at http://www.finchinfo.com/birds/finches/species/red_avadavat.php.

2009. "avadavat" (On-line). Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed April 11, 2009 at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/45341/avadavat.

Goodwin, D. 1982. Estrildid Finches of the World. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Harrison, C. 1962. The Affinities of the Red Avadavat, Amandava amandava. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ club, 82/ 7: 126-132.

Langham, N. 1987. The Annual Cycle of the Avadavat Amandava amandava in Fiji. The Emu; Official Organ of the Australasian Orinthoughogists’ Union, 87: 232-243.

McGrawa, K., J. Schuetzb. 2004. The Evolution of Carotenoid Coloration in Estrildid Finches:. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, B139: 45-51. Accessed April 06, 2009 at http://74.125.93.104/search?q=cache:m9NXDsTh-DEJ:www.public.asu.edu/~kjmcgraw/pubs/CBPB04b.pdf+The+evolution+of+carotenoid+coloration+in+estrildid+finches:a+biochemical+analysis&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

Sparks, J. 1963. Social Structure of the Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava) With Particular Reference to Clumping and Social Preening. Animal Behaviour, 11/ 2/3: 407-408.