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.
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.
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.
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.