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The Beautiful Firetail (Stagonopleura bella) is wonderful small, but striking plump, short-tailed bird. It is olive-brown in colour with dark fine wavy barred front and below, a bright red bill, and crimson rump that is especially conspicuous when in flight. It has a black mask, that surrounds the eyes to the bill (lores), and pale blue eyering. The wings are short and rounded, with legs and feet a pink-cream in colour. Some have a black against white barred colour variation.

The juvenile birds are duller in colour to the adults, with a smaller eye patch and a blackish bill. The species are usually seen in pairs or small family groups.

The Beautiful Firetail is endemic to the south-eastern Australia, essentially along the coastline from Newcastle, New South Wales, Victoria and to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island in South Australia. They are also found in Tasmania and the off shore islands.

These birds are never far from water, being found in swampy grassy spots along coastal belts of dry forest, shrubby heath, tea-tree scrub, casuarinas. They eat mainly grass seeds and seeds of the Casuarina and Melaleuca.

The Beautiful Firetail nest is shaped like a bottle on its side, has a long tunnel leading to a round egg chamber. They tend to nest in dense foliage near the ground, with the nest constructed of grass stems, twigs and lined with feathers. Both sexes build the nest, sharing the incubation of the eggs and caring of the young. The breeding season is from October to January.

Common name
Also known as Firetail Finch, Tasmanian Finch.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Estrildidae
  • Genus: Stagonopleura
  • Species: S. bella
  • Binomial name: Stagonopleura bella