This week as we continue to be prevented from birding, due to extended lock-down, I thought it opportune to feature a unique group of finches called Mannikins, of which Australia has three species. along with the Firetials are known as Old World finches. We have four species of Mannikins: the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (pictured above) found in far north and north eastern Australia; the Nutmeg Mannikin found only along the coastal forests and woodlands of Queensland and NSW; and lastly the Yellow-rumped Mannikin and Pictorella Mannikin, of which we have not yet seen either, found only in the far north of our Northern Territory.

Like other birds of the Finch family, they are basically seed eaters. The Chestnut-breasted Mannikins spend most of their time feeding from tall grasses rather than on the ground as the Nutmeg Mannikin and other finches do. They also eat some insects, such as termites. They are not endemic to Australia but are also found in South East Asia. The juvenile Mannikin lacks the beautiful plumage of the adult and is all olive brown, having a dark beak and the adult female is slightly paler than the adult male.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin family
Juvenile Nutmeg Mannikin

Finches are flock birds, generally in large flocks and generally are well suited to our Australian climate having a high tolerance for our hot dry arid country, though the Nutmeg Mannikin prefers the moister east coastal areas.

You can get an idea of how small these birds are (10 to 12 cm) by the way this Chestnut-breasted Mannikin is gripping these reeds.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin resting on reeds

They are able to think and act so much faster than we can due to their tiny brains being heavily wired for fast action and reaction, which is how they can protect themselves from slower larger predators, and maneuver themselves quickly in flight through trees and tall grasses. Research into finches shows that their brains are extremely compacted with neurons, with far more neurological connections than we previously thought, and because these are located close together in their tiny brains, are able to rapidly respond even before we can think the next thought.

It is a shorter post this week, though I would like to share our most recent visitor to our bird baths, a juvenile/immature Grey Butcherbird, whom is just learning to explore on its own. In the footage below it is engaging in what appears to be its first attempt to bathe. The father use to bring it here with its sibling for a drink during the last summer. The background music is Spanish Ballad from David Fryatt’s Virtuosity album, used with his permission.


Hope your week ahead is enjoyable, and that you are able to enjoy the birds from where ever you can.


Australia has many different varieties of Finch, several can exist in large flocks inhabiting very dry arid desert conditions. These birds have had much research done on them in recent years partly due to their easy breeding factor. Many species of Finch are called by names other than Finch, including: Mannikins, Firetails, Sparrows, Redpolls, Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Munias. They are all basically similar in diet and beak and body structure, yet their names appear to separate them and make them dissimilar to the unknowing.

Comparison of some Finch-like birds

In life one of the tricks our unseen enemy will attempt to do is find cause for us to isolate and separate out people from the flock and suggest to them through negative thoughts to feel lonely, inferior and fearful, even though this suggestion is a lie and only has power to hurt and destroy when one believes it as true. This occurs also when beautiful women suffer from anorexia and bulimia thinking they are too fat or ugly. Many teenagers commit suicide each year because of the social media images and expectations they feel made to believe and live up to.

Many of us have experienced times when we have had negative feelings about ourselves and others, when in fact we are quite normal and as an individual, an amazingly unique and valuable creation of God’s wisdom and glory. Our value is not in what we think about ourselves, or what others think, but in what God says we are, for when we loose sight of this we loose hope and become easily intimidated to be tempted to believe the enemy’s lie and become depressed and have negative thought patterns and eventually develop habits dangerous to our emotional, mental, social and physical health, to attempt to compensate for our fear, stress and anxiety . God loves us all just as we are, and does not place different names on us or judge us as others do, we are all people his son Jesus died to save from our corrupted state, a state we all share, having the same common ancestor. No one is better than another by creation, so let’s enjoy and appreciate our uniqueness and quirkiness as I do, and tell the enemy and his bad thoughts to get lost and declare and believe the truth about yourself that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

“For God so loved the world [that means you] that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16

Check out my Birder Sanctuary page if you want to explore this more.


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‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,

To learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’

NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed  by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

16 Comments »

  1. Lovely photos of the finches Ashley, some of which I have never heard of before. Also enjoyed the video of the young grey butcherbird taking its first bath. I’m sure he’ll be back to visit often when the hot days of summer hit. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, yes many have never heard of Mannikins, it is a strange name for a Finch, We only see them in particular locations as they are not as widespread as other finches. The juvenile Butcherbirds are always a delight when they come to visit. It is lovely watching them mature and see their plumage changes, eventually they go off to forma new family but the original parents have been here for some years now, and they are my favourite song birds, they always make me feel happy inside when I hear them. Enjoy your weekend my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, yes he is a cutey, I remember it coming with his dad a year ago in the heat, I think he was being introduced to the birdbath (waterhole and baths) he occasionally appears for drinks but that was the first time I have seen him attempt a bath. Enjoy your week my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you get out of lock down soon, yes the finches are such lovely little birds. And I love what you wrote about our Father putting a name on us to how we look or are different from others. We are all created in His image, how can we call others names. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cindy, yes our birds give us all great joy and delight. I just came back from a walk and noticed that many of the Spring birds have not returned possibly because of the great losses from last years bushfires and firestorms, still hoping they will. Enjoy your week.

      Like

  3. Hi Ashley,
    First up, really like the clean feel of the new layout. Sometimes a refresh brings new perspective.

    Great series of photos and some interesting backdrop on birds I don’t normally get to see. Always a treat to be on the learning end.

    Little Butch, looks like it has a bit to learn, but no doubt in a few weeks will be the master of the garden.

    Hope things are going well, as your brave Premier lets the begins to let the reins lose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David for your encouraging comments, I am enjoying the feedback from the change, which was one of the good things arising from lock-down, but at first a headache to change all the pages, as I have so many, as well as the task of getting my head around Block, which I now do well, as fiddly as it is, having taught myself some aspects of code, which has been a great asset working at times with the HTML code editor.
      I have thought to showcase some the seldom seen birds for a change. We were hoping to see the other two species of Mannikin among other birds this year, but we are now rebooked for next year, but still uncertain whether WA will be open even next July.
      There is so much confusion here as to what the current orders are for each of our LGAs, and how they are interpreted. From yesterday it even became more so, as there are so many new dos and don’ts, and as my brother said, living in regional NSW, most people have not yet clicked that the vaccine will not stop the virus spreading or them getting sick when the restrictions lift. It will however be perilous for the non-vaccinated on Dec 1st or when ever as that could change also. We will be able to travel to regions and visit grandies and other family on 18th Oct, providing 80% full is reached, and this will be the test. The biggest problem is for businesses trying to enforce vaccinated only entry to shops or workforce, they are already up in arms about having to have to deal with non compliant people, as we all know they will not comply and will lie and cheat and abuse their way. So we all wait for 2 weeks and see what happens Thanks again my friend, enjoy the Spring warmth.

      Like

    • Thanks so much Wayne for re posting my blog on your site, it is much appreciated. You do have a very beautiful pictorial blog which takes you away to some very beautiful places. I wish all the best and stay safe my friend.

      Like

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