Species profile

Plum-headed Finch

Plum-headed Finch

Photo courtesy of Dean Portelli.

Range and abundance

Plum-headed Finches are found from northern Queensland southward through the interior of eastern Australia into New South Wales. They are considered moderately common in areas of suitable habitat.


Adult Plum-headed Finches have white-spotted light brown wings with pale grey to white underparts and dark brown barring across the breast. The feet and legs and beak are dark grey. The crown and forehead are a deep glossy plum colour, more pronounced in males. Males also have a dark spot below the beak which is not present on the female.


Plum-headed Finches live in tall grass or shrubs near swamps and rivers, where they feed on fallen grass seeds and some green vegetation. They build a small dome nest, slightly taller than it is wide, lined with feathers. The nest is low to the ground, and usually hidden within dense shrubs or grass. Females lay 4-6 eggs with both parents sharing the incubation. 


Like many seed eating finches, Plum-headed Finches rely on an intact grass layer for food and shelter. Altered fire regimes – especially an increase in extensive, hot wildfires in the late dry season – are a key threat to finches, as they reduce the availability of seed and dense vegetation over extensive areas. Intensive grazing has a similar impact on food resources. Finches are vulnerable to predation by feral cats.


What is AWC doing?

AWC implements fire management on Mount Zero-Taravale to reduce the incidence of late dry season wildfires. The sanctuary has also been destocked. 

Did you know:

Plum-headed Finches are bred for the aviary trade because they are sociable with other caged birds and easy to tame.