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Systematic classification and general information
Species: P. personata Gould, 1842
Small bird that is part of the large group of Australian Estrildidae. Like its close "relatives", the Bavetta diamond and the long-tailed diamond, it belongs to the genus "Poephila". Its range includes almost all of the northern Australian coastal strip. Its habitat consists of open green areas with the sporadic presence of thick bushes and even shrubs. In each area its presence is based on the presence of areas with small quantities of water, where they can be easily spotted. There are distinct subspecies of the Masked Diamond, which differ from the ancestral species in the different coloring of the beak and the different coloring of the nape: the "Poephila personata personata" and the "Poephila personata leucotis".
Masked diamond - Poephila personata (photo www.mountainsbeyond.org)
Masked Diamond Pair - Poephila personata (photo www.danolsen.dk)
About 12 cm long. Its livery is characterized by a plumage with predominantly uniform brown color over the whole body. On the chest the brown color tends to fade into grayish. The wings are slightly darker. On the sides there is the presence of black bands. The rump is white. The tail is black instead. Its beak is yellow and conical in shape. Its legs are flesh-colored. Typical is the presence of the facial mask, to which this Estrildide owes its common name "masked", which was also reported in its Latin scientific name ("personata", from the Latin "person", literally: "mask"), which it extends around the whole beak, up to the throat and eyes. In this breed, as in most estrildidae, sexual dimorphism is not very evident or almost non-existent, in fact only a truly expert and trained eye will be able to distinguish male subjects from female ones; the males have a slightly wider mask and have slightly more loaded plumage colors.
Given that in captivity it is very difficult to find the ancestral species, but rather there are mainly specimens belonging to the subspecies "Poephila personata personata", much more common and more widespread.
Strange but true, but the Masked Diamond by nature is a monogamous bird, that is, when a couple is formed, it remains tied for life. This characteristic is obviously not observable in captivity, as the breeder is used to yield and couple subjects of different couples almost every year, therefore for better or worse, it is possible to force nature so as to be able to restore those balance in the subjects, so as to make so that between two individuals there is the sort of "couple harmony" necessary for seasonal reproduction. They always remain very selective in the choice of the partner, therefore sometimes the desired results in reproduction are not achieved due to this innate instinct, and this certainly does not make it a bird suitable for novice breeders. In nature, it is a sedentary bird, which often lives in pairs or even in small colonies, which spend most of their time on the ground looking for food. Large flocks of these birds often form in pools of water, which meet to drink. Like many of its like, it is a granivore, which feeds on seeds of various kinds, but also integrates its diet with shoots, small leaves, fruits, but also larvae and small insects and worms. Reproduction occurs in nature in the period that corresponds to the end of the rainy season, an optimal period for the large presence of food and water. The construction of the nest occupies both sexes. The nest is usually spherical in shape and composed of feathers, stems, twigs, fluff, and other kind of fibrous plant material. The newly fertilized female begins the deposition; lays 3 to 6 eggs, which hatches for a duration of about 14 days. Even in the phase of feeding the chickens, both parents take turns feeding the nestlings and the copious search for food. The young leave the nest about 22-25 days old. In captivity, the nest to be used is the classic "box" nest, which is a good idea to adorn it with fake vegetation or shading, in order to provide them with the intimacy and tranquility they require. Never move the cage during the spawning phase. It may happen that the mother leaves the chickens, so it is always better to have one or more pairs of nurses available to pass the chickens; pairs of Japanese sparrows or even mandarin diamonds can be used for nurses. For the captive diet, the mix of exotic must be used, supplemented with panic ears, pastoncino, grit, fruit and even live prey when it comes to the day of the hatching of the eggs.
In the non-breeding season it can winter in aviaries and live with individuals of the same or even different species.
At ornithological exhibitions it is quite common to admire specimens of Masked Diamond.
Card created by Federico Vinattieri http://ornitologia.difossombrone.it