Aust birds    Bird names   News   1-26    Habitats    Key plants    Glossary    Plumage    Nests    Tips    Thumbnails    Gen. info    Sponsors    Photos for sale   
NON-PASSERINES     1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10     11     12     13     14 15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     PASSERINES
Common names sorted alphabetically: A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   W   Y  

24

Zebra Finch

(Taeniopygia guttata)
Alternate name(s): "Chestnut-eared Finch"
Aboriginal name(s): "nyiri-nyiri", "nyi-nyi", "nanakawi"

Size: 10 cm
Weight: 10-15 g
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Zebra Finch at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "castanotis"

ADULT

MALE

Near-frontal view of a male Zebra Finch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

Close-up near-lateral view of a male Zebra Finch (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Maules Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Lateral view of a male Zebra Finch (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, March 2017]

Lateral view of a male Zebra Finch (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, June 2017]

Lateral view of a male Zebra Finch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

The same Zebra Finch as above, now with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Two male Zebra Finches drinking from a farm dam
[Near Cameron Corner, in SA, September 2012]

Male Zebra Finch dipping into its bath; Zebra Finches immerse themselves deeply into water, as opposed to Double-barred Finches, who only dip, as shown here, and then flap their wings to spray themselves wet
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2009]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female Zebra Finch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

Lateral view of a female Zebra Finch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Another female Zebra Finch seen from underneath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, 2006]

Dorsal view of a female Zebra Finch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

Pair of Zebra Finches on a barbed-wire fence (male in front, female at the back)
[Leard State Forest, NSW, May 2014]

Pair of Zebra Finches (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

A bit of Zebra Finch TLC...
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Flock of Zebra Finches drinking from a pond
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2009]

Part of a flock of Plum-headed Finches taking a bath in a puddle, together with Zebra Finches (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, February 2014]

Small group of Zebra Finches in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2016]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of an adolescent, probably female, Zebra Finch in the process of developing its characteristic orange bill colour from the juvenile grey form
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Juvenile Zebra Finches in evening sunlight
[Near Moree, NSW, June 2013]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Oct - Mar Eggs: 4 - 6 Incubation period: 12 - 14 days Fledging age: 21 days

Given the right conditions, Zebra Finches can breed any time of the year.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Bottle-shaped dome Material: Grass with feather lining Height above ground: 1 - 5 m

Additional information

A. Morris reports that Zebra Finches like to take advantage of the protection offered by nesting under a Wedge-tailed Eagle or Whistling Kite nest. There is now a separate page about various bird species nesting under the umbrella of a stronger, protective species.

Male Zebra Finch in front of its nest (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Maules Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Here the bird is seen entering the nest (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Maules Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Back of a Zebra Finch's nest in a dense, thorny bush

Female Zebra Finch ready to get back into its nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 16 x 11 mm Colour: White Shape: Tapered oval

The nest shown here contained at least five tiny white eggs, most of which are not visible in the photo.

Look into the same nest as shown above, with at least one egg visible
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: FLock

All species of finches known to us are highly sociable.

Zebra Finches can often be found in roadside vegetation (here in the dead stalks of the previous year's population of weeds)
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, August 2012]

Although usually staying low above the ground in shrubs, Zebra Finches can occasionally also be found in trees, in this case 10 m high in an eucalypt
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, November 2016]

Male Zebra Finch dipping into its bath; Zebra Finches immerse themselves deeply into water, as opposed to Double-barred Finches, who only dip, as shown here, and then flap their wings to spray themselves wet
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2009]

Food, Diet

Adults: Seeds Dependents: Regurgitated seeds Water intake: Daily

Like all other finches known to us, Zebra Finches feed on seeds. These include grass seeds and seeds of reeds.

Zebra Finches are known to stay close to water, because they need water daily.

Flock of Zebra Finches feeding by a roadside
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Small group of Zebra Finches waiting for a mob of kangaroos to clear out of an ornamental pond in a garden at the time of a severe drought
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2014]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

zebra_20140318.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
zebra_20140715_3.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
Squabbling © MD
zebra_20140715_11.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
Various (near nest) © MD
zebra_20140715_4.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
zebra_20140715.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
? © MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of a Zebra Finch.

zebra_20140715_8.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
Arrival (mob) © MD
zebra_20140715_10.mp3 castanotis
(NW NSW)
Departure © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.