In Australia, the Pytilia family of finches are popular members of many collections. Most finch breeders confidently talk about Melbas, (green winged Pytilias), Auroras (Red Winged Pytilias), the Yellow Winged Pytilias, which have yellow wings and a red head, but seem to struggle on the details when it comes to the black sheep of the family – the Red Faced Red Winged Pytilia.
The Yellow Wing Pytilia – (Pytilia hypogrammica) seems to be the closest relation to the Red Faced Red Winged Pytilia, so close in fact that many arguments have formed over whether or not it is actually a separate species.
There are several schools of thought on where the Red Faced Red Winged Pytilia came from. Some believe that it is a colour mutation of the Yellow Wing Pytilia, and therefore does not warrant being known as a separate species.
Others believe that because of the closeness of the natural range of the Yellow Wing Pytilia and the Red Winged Pytilias, the Red Faced Red Winged Pytilia is a hybrid of the two species.
The third theory is that it is in fact a unique species. The Red Faced Red Winged Pytilia is referred to as Pytilia hypogrammica lopezi, but information regarding the source of this classification is not that clear.
In Australian Aviculture the Yellow Wing Pytilia is the rarer of the Pytilias and probably the hardest to breed. The Red Faced Red Winged Pytilia is more common and easier to breed but still a delightful bird.
I have always regarded the Red Faced Red Wing as a separate species, although could not confidently back this up with scientific facts. I would like to think it was a separate species and with my experience in breeding both species there does seem to be differences between the Yellow Wing and the Red Faced Red Wing.
Because of the limited number of exotic bird species that we have here in Australia, it would be nice to keep them as two separate species. If anyone has an opinion on this matter or any related readings, please leave us a comment.