Bird Photography with marysejansenart
Nesting several times per season, these birds are on fire!
Table of Contents
A Mating Dance
I stop in my tracks. A couple of small birds are rummaging around in the tall grass beside the track I’m walking on. They are Red-browed Finches! They are easily frightened and will fly off at the least disturbance, but it looks like I stopped just in time. They are not paying me any notice! Slowly I bring my camera up to my eye and zoom in on the bird closest to me, which has taken position on a small horizontal branch.
I can see it clearly, although there is another branch in front of it. It is carrying a piece of grass with some seeds on the end in its beak. It is clearly excited about something as it begins to jump straight up and down repeatedly. What’s it doing? I wonder if it is a mating dance?
I stop filming momentarily to get myself in a slightly better position, then I spot a second bird that has come in on the same branch. Quickly I start recording again, right on time to witness the mating act! Indeed, it was a mating dance!! This little fellow had found the best grass seeds and was showing off his goodies to entice the female to mate with him. It reminds me of the Satin Bowerbirds, who go full out in their display of ‘goodies’ to attract a female.
Red-browed Finch Appearance
Male and female Red-browed Finches look the same. The birds are small, only 11-12cm. They are olive-green and grey birds with bright red features. They get their name from the bright red stripe that appears like a brow above their eye. The red colour continues on their beak. They also have a bright red rump, which is slightly visible at the base of their tail and becomes more apparent when they open their olive green wings. They are sometimes called Red-browed Firetail as well for that reason. Their upperparts are mainly olive green and their underparts are grey. Their legs and feet are light pink. Juveniles lack the red brow and the olive-green colour on their upperparts.
The breeding season extends from October through to April. These birds often breed in groups. They build dome-shaped nests with a side entrance, preferably a couple of metres above ground level in dense shrubs. The male and the female both are involved in the building of the nest. After the female lays her 4-6 eggs, both parents share the incubating duties. It takes two weeks for the chicks to hatch. Two more weeks are spent in the nest, while both parents are active feeding their offspring. Another two weeks later, the young birds are fully independent.
It’s a pretty quick turn around: 6 weeks from laying eggs to having fully independent offspring! This means that the Red-browed Finches can produce multiple clutches each season! Their Firetails surely must be putting them on fire! If the mating that I just witnessed is successful it will be their last clutch for this season, as the weather is beginning to cool down.
Feeding and Hiding Places
Red-browed Finches range along the east coast of Australia and round the south-east corner of the continent. They spend their live staying in one area or moving around in a larger area but they don’t migrate. They live in various types of woodlands and forests, but they mostly prefer edges of forests with water nearby where they have access to grassy areas as well as dense shrubs. They need the grassy areas for feeding purposes as the finches mainly eat grass and sedge seeds. They will also eat berries and insects. The dense shrubs nearby serve as a safe hiding place where they can quickly disappear into when disturbed. And of course as a safe place to build their nests!
During one of my bush walks I encounter the Red-browed Finches feeding on the seeds of the tall grasses that the Double-barred Finches are also so fond of. Focusing in on the bird and the seeds immediately around it, while the green background becomes soft, creates some beautiful artistic images! They really do justice to this beautiful little bird, bringing out the bright red features in the predominantly green environment.
If you are interested in purchasing a print of ‘Red-browed Finch Perched’ or would like to see what the image looks like on the various merchandise products, please head to my shop. If you’d prefer ‘Red-browed Finch Feeding’, click shop here.
Join me on my walk and witness the mating dance of the Red-browed Finch in the latest episode of ‘Come for a walk in the Australian Bush’: