Australian Bush Birds
Red-browed Finch  -  Neochmia temporalis
Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch showing back colours and the red rump under and between the folded wings. Toonumbar Nat Pk., NSW.
Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch at Casino NSW. The square rear end of the red eyebrow indicates a male.
map map The Red-browed Finch - Neochmia temporalis - has a lead-grey crown, olive-green to olive-yellow back, scarlet rump, dark grey to black tail. Pale grey underneath. Scarlet 'eyebrow' from red beak through and above the eye to the side of the crown. In males the eyebrow terminates in a square-cut end near the nape; in females it tapers to a fine end. Females are duller overall. Juveniles are brown and duller with a black bill. Grows to 11-12 centimetres.

Red-browed Finch - page 2
Lives in undergrowth of forests, prefers grassed clearings; also coastal scrub and heath, mangroves or canefields. Lives in close-knit flocks, and builds roosting nests, small round balls in shrubs with no tunnel entrance or lining.

Flock members keep in touch with constant high-pitched calling while feeding and while in flight.

Feeds on ripe and half-ripe seeds of grasses and herbs supplemented with small fruit and insects gleaned from foliage rather than taken in the air. Usually forages on the ground hopping about and occasionally balancing on stalks to peck at seed heads. Feeding is interrupted by frequent visits to water which is drunk by scooping.

There are two versions of this species; temporalis described above, is found in Victoria, the south-east corner of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland south of Townsville. Common along the east coast. Version minor found north of Townsville, has a wider eyebrow, brighter coloured back and a black tail. Introduced into the Darling Ranges, Western Australia. There is possibly a third race living near Adelaide.

Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch at Wangaratta, Vic. The taper at the rear of the red eyebrow indicate a female.
Coupled form permanent pairs and stay close all year, preening one another and roosting together at night in the roost nests, often with several others. Breeding takes place from August to January in the south, December to April in the north. The nest is flask-shaped with a tunnel entrance at the side; sometimes only a hood. Nest is made of stiff green and/or dry grass, occasionally with pieces of bark or leaves; 200 to 280 millimetres long, 140 millimetres high, 100 to 130 millimetres wide; lined with white feathers and placed in bushes, often thorny, to a height of 8 metres.

Four to six pure white eggs are laid; oval, about 16 by 12 millimetres. Both parents share incubation and brooding by day and roost together in the nest at night; incubation takes 13 or 14 days. The young beg with quivering wings and fledge in about 15 to 17 days.

Names. Also known as Firetail, Waxbill or Redbrow.