Australo-Papuan Grassfinches

Fourteen of the 21 species of this family recorded in Australia are endemic, five of,the other breeding species extend to New Guinea and the Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata is found in Timor. The Nutmeg Mannikin L. punctulata and Java Sparrow L. oryzivora are introduced, and the Pale-headed Munia L. pallida is recorded as a vagrant. Most species have bright markings, but the endemic Gouldian Finch Eythrura gouldiae (male) is arguably the most colourful of all of Australian birds.

Scientific name: Estrildidae (family)

Beautiful Firetail

Stagonopleura bella Generally brown-grey, with fine black and white barring and contrasting crimson rump and bill. Conspicuous black face-mask and pale blue eye-ring, and red conical bill. The wing tips of the male whiten during the breeding season and the overall plumage darkens. The female resembles the non-breeding male, but has complete barring on the abdomen, whereas the male has a blackish...

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin

Lonchura castaneothorax This beautiful, thick-set finch, with a powerful bill, is highly social, often forming vast flocks of several hundred birds. The upperparts are rich chestnut, with a grey crown. The underparts are generally white, with a broad chestnut breast-band, bordered below with black, and conspicuous black face and throat. The call, ‘teet’ or ‘tit’, which may be either bell-like or long...

Crimson Finch

Neochmia phaeton This large finch (16 to 17cm) with a long, tapered red tail and red face cannot be confused with any other Australian Finch. The upperparts are brown, washed with grey and red. The underparts are pale brown on the female, crimson on the male. Birds from Cape York Peninsula have a white belly. The Crimson Finch is not especially gregarious, usually occurring alone or in family...

Diamond Firetail

Stagonopleura guttata This brightly coloured finch inhabits open grassy woodland, forest and mallee, mainly in the vicinity of watercourses. The head is grey, while the remainder of the upperparts are greyish-brown, with the exception of the conspicuous red rump. The underparts are white, with contrasting black on the chest and flanks, the latter being heavily spotted with white. The iris and...

Gouldian Finch

Chloebia gouldiae The most colourful Australian grassfinch, and among the most strikingly coloured of all of Australia’s endemic bird species. Patchily distributed, but locally common in northern Australia from around Derby in tropical WA to Cape York Peninsula. Body colour is bright green on the back, yellow on the belly and purple on the breast, with adult males brighter than females. Face c...

Long-tailed Finch

This striking grassfinch can be identified by its fawn-brown upperparts, pinkish-brown underparts, blue-grey head and nape and black throat.  The tail is black and thread-like, with a contrasting white base.  Across its range, which extends from the North of Western Australia to north-western Queensland, its bill colour changes from yellow in the west to orange-red in the east.  Young birds have bl...

Red-browed Finch

This finch can be distinguished by its bright red rump and red eyebrow.  The remainder of the body is olive-green above and grey below.  The Red-browed Finch is distributed in a broad coastal band along the east coast of Australia, and a small population of escaped aviary birds exists near Perth, Western Australia.   It is found in open forest, grasslands, agricultural areas and urban parks and gar...

Zebra Finch

Taeniopygia guttata By far the most numerous grassfinch is the Zebra Finch, and is generally associated with the more arid areas of Australia, although its distribution is widespread through most of the Australian mainland. These small, predominantly grey birds, with white underparts, chestnut coloured cheeks (male), black tear-drop eye stripes, and ‘zebra-like’ barred black and white tails, can...