Red-browed Finch nest building at close range

Red-browed Finch nest building at close range

We've often observed that Red-browed Finches favour trees or bushes with a tangle of Dodder-laurel (Cassytha sp.) as a nesting site. A Geebung bush (Persoonia linearis) just in front of our deck has a heavy growth of this vine and a pair of Red-brows has just started to nest in it.


These birds have been giving the bush a deal of attention in recent days. Two days ago, we saw the male with a grass stem in its beak, jumping up and down on a branch in a nearby wattle bush - clearly some sort of display behaviour. Sure enough, a minute or so later, a female flew in and they mated - all over in a flash. We didn't manage to photograph the actual event, but here is the female straight afterwards on the wedding branch. Red-brows apparently mate for life.


Having completed their nuptials, the pair settled down to the task of house building. This consists of repeated forays from the Geebung to forbs and grasses in the vicinity. They first choose a perch in the bush which gives them a good view of the surroundings.  


Then they fly off at high speed. A minute or two later they return, trailing a grass or forb stem, which is usually much longer than their body, behind them. Quite a comical sight at times!


Here is a nice sequence of a bird returning to the bush with a flowering stem of Poa meionectes, one of our most common grasses.

Back in the bush, the stem is carried up to the nest, manoeuvred into position - as shown in this video - and weaved into the nest. The nest itself is hidden in the middle of the Geebung bush. It is flask-shaped, has a tunnel entrance on the side and is lined with white feathers.

The finches alternate bouts of stem collecting with rest periods.


They've been at it for 2 days now, with both birds taking part in the gathering of nesting materials. Apparently, they also share incubation and brooding. It will also be interesting to see if other pairs nest in the same bush, as we've observed in the past. Red-brows are the most sociable of Australian finches.