Of these four Australian beauties, the commonest is the hardy, well-mannered ZEBRA FINCH (upper pair, male right). Rarer in America is the DIAMOND FINCH (center). The showy RED-FACED GOULDIAN FINCH (male and female, left-hand pair) and the BLACK-FACED GOULDIAN (female below male, lower right), long considered distinct, are now known to be merely color varieties of one species. They are not easily acclimated in colder places. Paler purple on the breast distinguishes the females from their mates.
By Alexander Wetmore
Originally appeared in the December 1938 issue of the National Geographic Magazine
This Web version COPYRIGHT 2004
The diamond finch (Stagonopleura guttata) is less often found but is highly regarded and does well in captivity. It is decidedly heavier in body than the zebra finch and is even more strikingly marked (Color Plate VI). It is native in eastern Australia.
In the bush, diamond finches make long bottle-shaped nests of grass in which to place their four to seven white eggs. Often from three to a dozen of their homes may be placed beneath the great stick nest of a brown hawk or a whistling eagle. these large neighbors seeming entirely indifferent to the little birds living beneath them.