- Colour: The male is grey with a red bill, orange-tan cheeks and flanks. The flanks also have white spots. Its rump is white, and its tail is black with white bars. The female has a red bill, a black/white face and tail markings, and is otherwise grey.
- Size: 10 cm.
- Call: A loud nasal twanging “tiarr” and abrupt “tet tet” from flocks in flight.
- Diet: It forages on the ground for fallen seeds rather than pulling down and stripping seeds from the heads of plants. It occasionally takes flying insects especially when feeding nestlings.
- Flight: Bouncy and undulating.
- Breeding: In the driest regions it is quick to nest after good rain. The female picks a nest site, usually low in a dense, thorny shrub or tree. The nest is a bulky, untidy, rounded dome with a deeply hooded side entrance. The clutch is normally 4 – 6 eggs and both sexes incubate the eggs for 12 -16 days and feed the nestlings.
What to Observe
- Bird on chicks
- Bird on eggs
- Bird on nest
- Bird feeding young
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
Since breeding is linked to rainfall, changes in temperature and rainfall will affect breeding times. Drought may affect breeding in some regions.
When To Look
- October to April, when it usually breeds.
Where To Look
- Found across the Australian mainland, with the exception of Cape York Peninsula and some coastal areas.
- Most commonly found in the drier areas of Australia, living year round in social flocks of up to 100 or more birds. They can be found in a variety of habitats, mainly dry wooded grasslands, bordering watercourses.
Morcombe M 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds, Revised Edition. Steve Parish Publishing, Brisbane.
Pizzey G and Knight F 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Did You Know?
It is the most widespread finch in Australia.
Zebra Finches pair for life.
The introduction of artificial dams and water tanks has actually increased the Zebra Finch's natural range, as the birds need to drink on a regular basis.
With a time-span of 70 to 80 days from hatching to becoming sexually active, the Zebra Finch is one of the fastest maturing bird species recorded.