Diamond Firetail Finches
Australian Finches would have to be on many people’s lists of beautiful birds. Some, like the Gouldian Finch of northern Australia, are simply stunning. It is no wonder that they are highly popular with aviculturalists.
One of the local finches here in Murray Bridge South Australia is the very beautiful Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata). It is slightly smaller than the common House Sparrow found in many of our parks and gardens. The Diamond Firetail is widely spread in this district but is not common anywhere. According to the New Atlas of Australian Birds its distribution covers most of south eastern Australia south of a line from Port Augusta to Brisbane. It is not found in Tasmania. (To view map click here)
The Diamond Firetail is a small bird some 12-13cm in size. It has a bright, unmistakable red beak and red rump with a black tail. Its throat and breast is white with a black band across it. The white spotted black flanks give it the appearance of diamonds studded along its sides.
I have observed this beautiful species in a number of localities near my home. The best sightings have been in our own garden where it is in infrequent visitor. On several occasions it has delighted us in visiting our bird bath. Every time it has been such a brief visit. Its next visit must come soon – it hasn’t been since I bought my new camera. I’d love to get a close up photo of its stunning colours. [UPDATE: the photos on this page were added in March 2007]
An unusual sighting of this species was recorded recently near Callington (about 20km west of here). A large flock of over 35 was reported on Birdpedia. I have usually only seen them in ones or twos.
Hello,I saw you at the Murray bridge bird club. I live in Callington. 2 Weekends ago my fiance’ and i were letting go a blue tounge lizzard at Monarto & we drove down the road that goes past the Callington Hill tower & thru onto the dead end road.We spotted 2 male Diamond Firetails flitting around some low shrubs & on the ground in the Monarto Scrubland. I had my binoculars in the car so we watched them for about 10 minutes. They are exquisite little birds.
Hi there Michelle. I remember talking to you. Diamond Firetails have to be one of the most beautiful birds of this district. We get so excited when one comes to drink at our bird bath – it doesnt happen very often so it is a thrill to see one or more in our garden.
Were you trying to relocate the Blue Tongue Lizard? They are like homing pigeons. My brother’s neighbour on a farm near Loxton had one eating his strawberries. He took it out in the paddock and released it but it came back. He then put a paint spot on its back and took it several kilometres away. It returned to the strawberries a few days later!
[…] Diamond Firetail Finches – one of our most beautiful birds. […]
I thought it may be of some interest to other birdwatchers,I have just seen our first diamond firetail finch in our garden located in MOOROOLBARK MELB VICTORIA
Hi there Rob – welcome to my birding blog. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.
I am not all that familiar with your part of the world, having only driven through that area several times. According to the bird atlas Diamond Firetail Finches are not unexpected in your area. What is interesting is that it has been seen in a suburban garden. Considering this fact, it may well be an aviary escapee; they are kept by many bird lovers.
There is another possibility: due to the drought and now hot conditions of the last few weeks, this species may be migrating south temporarily.
Whatever the reason, it is a wonderful species to add to any garden list of birds.
I’m not sure if it’s pc here but I just got a couple of these lovely birds about a week ago. I was a little afraid that they may be noisy beign larger than my other finches (2 masked, 2 zebras and a cuthroat, but they are fantastic. There call is very reminescent of a ‘movie’ hawk’s. Starting low then high but still reserved as opposed to raucous (sp).
Does anyone know of a website with finch call sound files for both male and females? As you know it can be very hard to sex these birds.
Cheers -David Maifredi
Hi there David,
Yes – this blog is about birds in the wild state – but I still enjoy looking at birds in aviaries, especially in zoos where you can find a huge range of captive birds.
I am not able to answer your question – you will find heaps more info on Diamond firetail finches here:
Yesterday afternoon at the Bush Camp at Monarto Zoo we had about 6 Diamond Firetails come down and drink at a small puddle. The noise of some kids scared them away but they came back about 30 minutes later. They certainly are fantastic viewing.
Hi there Harry,
Great to hear from you again.
You are right – they are wonderful little birds. We occasionally get them coming into our garden to visit the bird bath – that’s how I got the photos above. I’d love to have them here all the time as they’d add so much colour to our regular bird life.
I don’t ever recall seeing them at Monarto Zoo but it doesn’t surprise me. They are widespread and relatively common throughout this district. Same with Zebra Finches.
Hey, thanks for writing this profile description it really helped me with my assignment (:
Last Sunday August15th My wife and I went for coffee to Mont DeLancey an old heritage estate with beautiful views over the Yarra Valley (Victoria)we saw dozens of Firetails in colonies all over the manicured lawn,we estimated that there could have been any thing up to 50 of these lovely birds.
That must have been an amazing sight. Such beautiful birds and to have the in such numbers is great.
We are just outside Melbourne and have a pair of Firetails nesting in our rockery actually tunneled into the soil between the rocks.
One of the young flew into our window and was dazed for a few minutes but was fine and the parents are now on eggs again certainly a lovely bird and nice to have around.
Thanks for visiting my birding site and for leaving some comments. Firetails are certainly wonderful birds to have around.
On the matter of birds flying into windows, this is a very common problem around the world and it accounts for many bird deaths annually. The figure is possibly in the millions though I don’t know of any global studies on this.
In our case, the most frequent window hitters are honeyeaters, sometimes silvereyes and sparrows. Generally they are just stunned and recover after a rest for a few minutes. The only death I can recall at our place in 26 years has been one sparrow.
The nest in the rockery is quite unusual. Must have been quite nice on warmer days. Shows how adaptable they can be.
Hi Diamond Firetail enthusiasts,
I am lucky enough to be living on a conservation covenant property of box ironbark and valley grassy forest in NE Vic. Nearly every day I have Diamond Firetails visiting, always first thing in the morning around the native grasses outside my bedroom window, then out the lounge window where I have a seat and binoculars all the time! They are beautiful birds and I think with the great summer rains this year and native seed producing grasses it seems that they have bred three times. I have seen the adults feeding fledglings over many weeks – that’s what makes me think there have been a few nesting events. I love them!
And I’m jealous, Wendy.
I am from Pakistan. I have common Daimond Sparrow in my collection.
I have many other Finches but i like them very much.
we have observed these exquisite birds on a few occassions by the railway line at Monato. On the last very recent sighting, we could not see any red in the tail area and a lot of grey and black on the head (even though the sun was behind us and shining directly on them). They displayed similar black and white areas (diamond pattern). We were wondering if they have different phases or that this may have been a sub species? (April 16th 2012)
Hi Michelle, sorry about the delay in replying. As far as I know there are no sub-species of the DFFinch. It was possibly birds in juvenile plumage.
hi trevor, i live in warrnambool victoria and a few months ago i went on a family visit to a wildlife park and saw a pair of these lovely little birds making a nest in a cage. i love birds;i have a few too many books on australian birds. i have only recently started to read your blog and i am very impressed with it. i hope you still continue to keep bloging in the future.
Hi Jackson, thanks for your comments. Can I suggest that you go to your local library and borrow some bird books as a starting point. Also watch out for specials in large stores as they sometimes offer bird field guides at half price or even cheaper. Also check out second hand book shops.
I have been very busy at work this year, but that changes from next week. Expect to see many more entries here on Trevor’s Birding.
hi i live in England and have been keeping and breeding aussie finches for about 30 years .i currently have gouldians ,bechino’s, cheshunt breasted mannikins, hecks, firetails and a pair of diamond doves although i think all my aussie birds are great ,i think firetails are just a little bit extra special .