The most common finch to enter our garden for water and food is the Double-barred Finch and there are up to two dozen visiting every day. They line up on our pretend power line and then enter the garden. They gather nesting material and drink and bathe at our watering points and then return to the bush over the back fence. This year has been different as we have a new visitor-the Zebra Finch. The last time we saw Zebra Finch visit our garden was a pair in 2004 and then suddenly in April this year they appeared in large numbers all around Broome’s coastline and at the Poo Ponds. We observed them drinking at salt water pools near the port and also good numbers at the ephemeral lakes. Since April we have been enjoying having Zebra Finch in the garden with the Double-barred Finch and I had intended to write about them a few weeks ago. I went out to sit on the lawn and take some photographs. I watched them fly in and bathe and that is when I captured the photographs of the Long-tailed Finch visiting our garden! I then delayed writing about the Zebra Finch as the Long-tailed Finch was a rather special visitor. We have not seen a Long-tailed Finch back in our garden since and even on a recent trip to the ephemeral lakes we saw hundreds of Zebra Finch, but only a handful of Long-tailed Finch. They have not had such a good year for breeding around Broome by the numbers we are currently observing.

The Zebra Finch drop down into the native plants we have next to one of our watering points and then all gather around to bathe and drink together.

Male Zebra Finch on native plant

Five Zebra Finch enjoying our water

The female bird has a nice tear drop near her eye making her almost look sad and a beautiful orange bill.

Female Zebra Finch 

The male bird has an orange bill as well, but also a chestnut ear patch and a barred chest.

 Male Zebra Finch

Since the arrival of the Zebra Finch to our garden in April we have observed them collecting nesting material, which has resulted in young birds now visiting with their parents. It had been a good year already, but it would appear that it is not over yet! The juvenile birds also love to come and bathe and enjoy the water we have provided.

Male Zebra Finch with juvenile enjoying the water

Juvenile Zebra Finch bathing together

Although this is a common pet bird around the world it is especially nice to have wild ones visit your garden on a daily basis.  Add water and native plants to your garden and see what you can attract!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!