Gouldian Finch and Spider predation by Crimson Finches

Subject: Gouldian Finch and Spider predation by Crimson Finches
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 18:00:30 +1100
Hello Frank,

I haven't heard of or seen reference to Gouldians feeding on nectar. They have been reported to feed on insects however. That being the case, I believe that they have a less varied diet than say Long-tailed Finches and Masked Finches. I think that it would be a little unusual for them to be foraging in the tree though. None of this from my own research- just what I've picked up from others.

If you get a chance again, it would be worth trying to see what it is that they are eating.

On Crimson Finches eating spiders. During my research on Crimsons (1998-2000) I found that spiders can make up a considerable portion of their diet (up to an average of 18% in February), in particular during the breeding season. This was the case for both the white-bellieds and the black-bellied species although insect larvae were the most prominent animal food in the diet of the white-bellieds on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. I believe that Crimsons particularly forage for young spiders while they have young babies in the nest. In the case of white-bellieds they usually take them from the foliage of Pandanus trees. Black-bellieds seem to forage for them around the eaves of human structures. They are great to watch when they are on the hunt.

One of the most interesting dietary items of finches is that of green algae by mannikins. Particularly during the breeding season a great part of the bulk of the crop contents of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins and Yellow-rumped Mannikins can be made up of green algae. While this hasn't been noted with Australian mannikins before it has been noted with other mannikin species in Africa and Asia. Apparently algae is high in protein and its occurrence in the diet of mannikins is a very interesting adaptation I think. I've recently written this up into a paper on finch diet that hasn't been published yet.

Its true Frank, finches don't just eat seeds!


Mick Todd

Michael Todd
Toronto, NSW, Australia

At 07:36 AM 5/03/01 +0800,  wrote:
Yesterday morning I saw three birds fly into a flowering melaleuca in the
middle of the car park of the village at the Argyle Diamond Mine in the
east Kimberley of WA.  Their call as they flew was unlike a honeyeater so I
went over to investigate.  I saw two adult male black-faced Gouldian
Finches which was a big buzz!!  Only my second sighting at Argyle in 12
years.  My first sighting was at the same location in early January 2000.
Unfortunately the bus arrived so I couldn't check further.

This morning I looked in the tree and found an adult female Gouldian Finch.
Again the bus arrived too soon.  However I had the impression on both days
that the birds were feeding in the tree.  They didn't just fly into the
tree and perch.  They were hopping around within the tree, although I
didn't actually see them peck at the flowers, etc.  But I only had about 30
seconds each time to view them.

So do Gouldian Finches feed on nectar?  Or maybe insects in the tree?

A work colleague reported to me last week that he had seen a Crimson Finch
take a spider from the window sill outside his office.  And a few years ago
(January 1992)  I saw a small group of about 20 Zebra Finches and a few
Long-tailed Finches catching flying termites.  They were in the middle of a
track and they would fly up to a metre and then land again.  Sometimes the
flight would be a loop the loop!  So finches don't just feed on seeds as I
had thought.

And more Fork-tailed Swift sightings.  Yesterday morning there was one over
the village although there was almost no cloud and no wind.  And this
morning I saw three swifts over the village and there was no wind and high
cloud cover.  I previously had only 7 sightings in 12 years at Argyle, so
sightings on 4 days in a week is unusual.

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