The nutmeg mannikin is an introduced species also known as the spice finch. Photo: Contributed
The nutmeg mannikin is an introduced species also known as the spice finch. Photo: Contributed

SPICE FINCH: Cage escapee establishes a population

The nutmeg mannikin is an introduced species.

Popular as a caged bird, some escaped or were released into the wild in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1930s and is now found from North Queensland to Sydney.

It is a small plump finch with a dark brown face and throat, the upper body is chestnut brown and the underparts are white with dark brown scalloping, while the legs, feet and the large, deep bill are grey.

Juveniles are paler above and buff-brown below.

The nutmeg mannikin flicks its wings and sways its tail constantly. It is usually seen in small flocks.

This species is also known as the spice finch.

It is a seed eater and forages around reeds, grasses and especially in the crops around farms but can also be seen along creeks in suburban areas and around shopping centres.

They are very social and more than one female may lay eggs in a nest.

The nests are spherical and made of green grass and sometimes pieces of bark.

The nests are usually built in the centre of shrubs and trees, but they have been known to use the eaves of buildings.

Both parents construct the nest and share incubation and the care of young.

It is one of several species of finch that can be found in the area and is similar to the chestnut-breasted mannikin but has a more heavy build, a longer tail and distinctive scallop marks on the underparts.

Being an introduced species it competes with native finch species for food.

It is quite common around Bundaberg and can be seen at the Botanic Gardens, Baldwin Swamp Enviro Park, Burnett Heads, Bargara and Mon Repos.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of Birdlife Capricornia. You can contact him with your bird questions at abriggs@irock.com.au


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