The Red-browed Finch, Neochima temporalis, is a small, sociable finch of eastern Australia with a north/south divide between two accepted races. This flock was found in long grass at the edge of a small wood near Sydney. The summer is past in the southern hemisphere and the mornings have become cooler. They sunned themselves and preened in the early sunshine before starting to feed from grass seedheads.

SYD 10May13 Redbrowed Firetail 03

They used to share the evocative name of Firetail with other Australian finches, but have lost it in favour of a simple Finch.

SYD 10May13 Redbrowed Firetail 12

Some appeared to break away from the main flock to perch as couples, mutually preening. It looked as if perhaps they were strengthening a pair bond. A breeding pair share brooding and feeding responsibility and roost together in the bottle-shaped woven nest at night. Despite their close fidelity and teamwork during breeding, I cannot find any evidence to suggest that they remain together as a pair beyond the breeding season.

SYD 10May13 Redbrowed Firetail 08

Their apparent preference to perch in twos, caused me to try and separate them by sex to see if they might be a faithful pair. Close attention to the brightness of the red rump is said to be an indicator, with the males being the more vivid. Even in good sunlight, it was not possible to differentiate, so I ended up none the wiser.

Juveniles can be distinguished as they lack the red brow of  the adults.

SYD 10May13 Redbrowed Firetail 14

The site at Powell’s Creek, close to Sydney has many Casuarina Trees. These trees have become established as aliens around the world and are now plentiful in North America. They are native trees in Australia and the Red-browed Finches are often associated with them as they love their seeds.

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.