- 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.
Where To Look
Maps of Habitat Suitability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
|Species range change from
current to 2070 probability
Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).
The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.
The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.
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.