Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
The overall brown appearance of the Red-eared Firetail allows them to blend into its surroundings while they forage on the ground. At first glance, the Red-eared Firetail may appear to be a drab, brown bird, but when it takes flight, its bright-red rump becomes obvious. A little closer observation reveals that it also has a bright-red ear spot, rump and beak, as well as a black-and-white spotted belly.
Male and female Red-eared Firetails appear similar. The head and neck are brown with fine black barring. There is a small black mask between the base of the bill and the eye (contrasting with a white eye ring), and a bright red ear spot. They have brown upper parts with fine, dark barring, and a bright-red rump and upper tail. The chin, throat and upper breast are slightly paler brown than the upper parts, and also have fine barring, but the rest of the underbody is black with bold white spots. The bill is bright red.n Juvenile birds are plainer than the adults, being mostly brown with faint barring, though they have red rumps. They lack the ear spot and the black-and-white belly of adult birds, and the bill, though reddish, is not nearly as bright as that of the adults.
Red-eared Firetails are confined to the south-western corner of Western Australia.
The Red-eared Firetail mainly inhabits dense, shrubby vegetation that occurs in association with streams within the eucalypt forests of Jarrah, Marri or Karri. During the non-breeding season, some may be seen in open Jarrah forests, away from riparian vegetation.
They are much less gregarious than other species of finches, usually occurring singly, and they are generally shy, quiet and rather unobtrusive.
Red-eared Firetails generally forage on the ground, among grasses or in shrubs. They eat seeds and very occasionally small insects pecked from the leaves of plants. They forage singly or in small flocks, and occasionally in congregations comprising dozens of birds. They very occasionally feed in the company of other seed-eating species, especially parrots.
After building a bulky, bottle-shaped nest of grass in a dense shrub, Red-eared Firetails lay between three and six white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes. The young birds are fed by both sexes.