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A photo of a Double-barred Finch (Stizoptera bichenovii)
Double-barred Finch

Double-barred Finch

Stizoptera bichenovii

The double-barred finch, a diminutive and charming bird, measures a mere 10 to 11 centimeters in length. It boasts a distinctive white face encircled by a striking black band, which has earned it the nickname "owl finch." The upperparts and throat are cloaked in a warm brown, while the underparts gleam white. A second black line elegantly separates the throat from the underparts, adding to its unique appearance. The wings are adorned with a tasteful brown and white pattern. Both sexes share a similar plumage, though the juveniles present a more subdued, browner version of the adults. The subspecies S. b. annulosa is set apart by its black rump, contrasting with the white rump of the nominate form.

Identification Tips

When observing these finches, look for the characteristic double-barred pattern on their face and breast. The white face with a complete black border is a key feature, as is the second black line across the lower throat. Their flight is undulating, and the wing pattern is quite noticeable when they take to the air.

Habitat

The double-barred finch is found in a variety of dry habitats, including savannahs, tropical dry grasslands, and shrublands, where it can often be seen flitting about in search of sustenance.

Distribution

This species is endemic to Australia, with its presence recorded in the northern and eastern regions of the continent. It is divided into two subspecies: S. b. annulosa inhabits the north of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, while S. b. bichenovii is found from north Queensland to southeast New South Wales.

Behaviour

The double-barred finch is a sociable creature, often seen in flocks. It is granivorous, meaning its diet primarily consists of grains. These finches construct their nests in grasses, bushes, or low trees, and a typical clutch comprises four to six eggs.

Song & Calls

The call of the double-barred finch is a gentle 'tet' or a more pronounced 'peew.' Its song is a delicate fluting, reminiscent of the zebra finch, and can be described as a soft, melodic warble.

Breeding

Nesting occurs in grasses, bushes, or low trees, where these finches lay clutches of four to six eggs. The breeding behavior of these birds is marked by their communal nature, often nesting in close proximity to one another.

Similar Species

The double-barred finch may be confused with other munia-like birds, but its unique face and breast markings, as well as its distinctive call and song, set it apart from its relatives.

Diet and Feeding

As granivores, double-barred finches primarily feed on seeds. They can be observed foraging on the ground or in low vegetation, often in the company of their flock.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the double-barred finch as Least Concern, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers.

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