Capricorn Coast Birds
   
 
 
Small birds 1
 
 
 
Double-barred Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Striated Pardalote, Rufous Whistler, Fairy Martin, Tree Martin
 
 
         
  Double-barred Finch
Taeniopygia bichenovii
Average size 10 cm
  Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
Lonchura castaneothorax
Average size 11cm
 
 
 
 
         
 
These are found from the Kimberley region through to west of the Gulf of Carpentaria and then from Cape York down the east coast to south-eastern Victoria in dry grassy woodlands, scrublands, open forests and farmlands. They are fairly common here but because of their small size and rapid movement they are easy to miss, there are plenty of them on the Sandy Point Road and if you potter along at about 20kmh you will see them. Sandy Point Road runs through extensive wetlands and sand dunes so you will see quite a variety of birds, the road is very wide up to the National Park and driving slowly won’t inconvenience other drivers, the National Park section is a bit rough for non 4WD vehicles.
 Double-barred Finches feed primarily on grass seeds but like most small birds, will also take insects, especially when breeding, and often feed in groups or small flocks.
Males and females are indistinguishable and build a rounded nest, with a side entrance and short tunnel into an inner chamber lined with fine grass, feathers and plant down.
These relatives of the Finches are found across northern and eastern coastal Australia, from the Kimberley region across the  Northern Territory and down to the Shoalhaven River, New South Wales. They are also found in New Caledonia,  New Guinea and Indonesia.
They live among rank grasses and reeds on the margins of swamps and mangroves, in grazing country and grassy woodland. Like other finches, this species is a very social bird and is most often seen in flocks, these can number hundreds of birds. I photographed this bird among the reeds and grass beside Fishing Creek Road where it skirts the wetlands about a kilometre in from Byfield Road.
Their diet is almost exclusively grass seeds, but they also eat winged termites at the beginning of breeding season.
Males and females are very similar and pairs breed in colonies, with the nests close together in grass clumps  or reeds, usually close to the ground. The rounded nest is made from green or dried grass blades and is lined with fine grasses. Both parents build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.
 
 
  Striated Pardalote
Pardalotus striatus
Average size 9cm
  Welcome Swallow
Hirundo neoxena
Average size 15cm
 
     
         
 
Striated Pardalotes are found throughout most of Australia except for the most arid areas, like other species of pardalotes they are found only in Australia. They live in almost any habitat with trees or shrubs but favour eucalypt forests and woodlands. Their diet is a wide variety of insects and their larvae, which are usually captured by picking them from the surfaces of leaves. Feeding takes place in small groups and birds maintain contact with soft trills. They are not uncommon but feed in the foliage in the tops of trees and are not often seen near the ground.
Males and females look the same and during breeding season form pairs or small groups of up to six birds. The nest is constructed close to the ground, usually in a tree hollow or in a tunnel excavated in an earthen bank.
Where to look for them; The photo was taken near Hedlow Creek beside Lake Mary Road as it runs down from the Hedlow Fauna Reserve.

These are widespread in Australia and are found everywhere except heavily forested or arid areas.
Both the species name and common name refer to people welcoming its return as a herald of spring in southern parts of Australia.They are found in open areas in a wide variety of habitats; they have adapted well to urban environments and are often seen on wires, posts and other suitable perches.
They feed on a wide variety of insects which are caught in flight, the prey is guided into the bird's wide, open mouth with the help of short bristles bordering the bill, these bristles also help protect their eyes. They are fast and agile fliers, usually foraging at around 30–40 km/h, although they are capable of reaching speeds of between 50–65 km/h when traveling.
Males and females look alike and build an open cup-shaped nest of mud and grass lined with feathers and fur; this is attached to a suitable structure such as a vertical rock wall or under the eaves of buildings.

 
 
  Fairy Martin
Petrochelidon ariel
Average size 12cm
  Tree Martin
Petrochelidon nigricans
Average size 13cm
 
     
         
 
This member of the swallow family is found throughout Australia, with some birds reaching New Guinea and Indonesia during seasonal migrations. They are gregarious, often nesting in colonies and feeding in large mixed flocks with Tree Martins and Swallows. Martins are generally smaller and 'dumpier' than swallows, and have a shorter, squared rather than forked tail in flight, Tree Martins principally differ from Fairy Martins in having a blue-black head and nape.
They live in open country close to water  and feed high in the air on flying insects but will also feed on insect swarms low over water, the birds in the photo were doing this shortly after dawn at Hedlow Creek in company with Swallows and Tree Martins.
A colonial nester, the Fairy Martin builds bottle-shaped mud nests made from mud pellets and lined with dried grasses and feathers.
 
This member of the swallow family is found throughout most of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. Swallows and martins are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding, with the name "martin" being used for the squarer-tailed species and the name "swallow" for the fork-tailed species; however there is no scientific distinction between the two groups.
Their preferred habitat is open woodland with large trees to provide nest holes but they have become increasingly common in urban and suburban areas, here you can find them along Hedlow Creek near Lake Mary.
The sexes are similar and breed from July through to January, either in pairs or semi-colonially depending on nest site availability. Nests are made from grass and leaves reinforced with mud and with mud and plant fibre cement used to reduce the width of the entrance to the breeding hole.
 
         
  Small birds page 2