The plum headed finch is a grassfinch native to Australia. Photo: Contributed.
The plum headed finch is a grassfinch native to Australia. Photo: Contributed.

BIRD OF THE WEEK: A social little finch

A reader asked 'what is the difference between a finch and a sparrow?' which is a very good question.

There are three groups or families of these birds, grassfinches, what are called true finches (introduced species) and what are called old world sparrows, again introduced species.

Each has different physical features and a good analogy would be the differences between say European, African and Asian peoples.

This week we will look at the Plum-headed Finch which is one of the grassfinches and native to Australia.

The male has a larger plum coloured patch on their head than the female and also has a plum coloured throat patch.

The strong wedge shaped bill is grey with the upper part being darker than the lower part. The back and wings are light brown with white marks on the wings.

The underside is a creamy colour with light brown bars across it.

They prefer grasslands, wetlands, rivers and creeks with grassy banks and pastoral country.

Their main source of food is mainly grass seed as well as the seeds of other plants.

They are very particular when it comes to choosing a mate and the male will offer the female grass material for building a nest which she may or may not accept.

They build a well concealed nest in grassy tussocks and lay 4 to 6 pure white eggs.

Both parents incubate the eggs which hatch after about 13 days.

After another three weeks the young birds will fledge but still being fed by the parents for another month.

They are a very social bird and have been seen in flocks up to 300 in inland areas but much smaller flocks on the coast.

They can be seen at Baldwin Swamp Enviro Park and at Burnett Heads, South heads Parklands.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, contact him with your bird questions at