Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National recovery plan for the white-bellied subspecies of the Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton evangelinae and the northern subspecies of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda clarescens (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzm) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement advice for predation, habitat degradation,competition and disease transmission by feral pigs (2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Crimson finch (white-bellied) (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2013k) [Database].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Scientific name Neochmia phaeton evangelinae [64443]
Family Passeridae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author d'Albertis & Salvadori, 1879
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Neochmia phaeton evangelinae.

Common name: Crimson Finch (white-bellied).

Other names: At the species level, the Crimson Finch has also been known as the Blood Finch, Cape York Crimson Finch, Pheasant Finch, Pale Crimson Finch, Red Finch, White-bellied Finch and Australian Firefinch (Higgins et al. 2006).

It is conventionally accepted that there are two subspecies of the Crimson Finch (Boles 1988; Schodde & Mason 1999): the nominate subspecies, N. p. phaeton, which is distributed from the Kimberley Division in Western Australia to the Barkly Tableland in north-western Queensland, and on the east coast of Queensland from Princess Charlotte Bay and Broad Sound to the drainage basins of the lower Dawson and Mackenzie Rivers; and the white-bellied subspecies, N. p. evangelinae, which occurs on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, and in the Trans-Fly region of southern Papua New Guinea (Coates 1990; Higgins et al. 2006; Schodde & Mason 1999).

Some authors have split the white-bellied forms of the Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea into two separate subspecies, N. p. albiventer on the Cape York Peninsula, and N. p. evangelinae in Papua New Guinea, on the basis of differences in plumage (Boles 1988; Higgins et al. 2006; Keast 1958; Paynter 1968). However, other authors consider the differences between the Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea birds to be insufficient to warrant separation, and to probably result from individual variation associated with the age of the bird and the wearing of the plumage (Boles 1988; Ford 1986; Rand 1942; Schodde & Mason 1999). Further study is needed to clarify the differences between the Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea populations (Higgins et al. 2006).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is a small bird that measures about 13 cm long, has a wing-span of about 16 or 17 cm, and a mass of about eight to 10 g.

The plumage of the adults differs between the sexes. The adult males have a bright red face, bill, throat and breast, and have bright red flanks that have a series of white spots running along them. They have greyish-brown colouring on the crown and back of the head, the rear and sides of the neck, the back and shoulders, and the upper surfaces of the wings. The brownish-grey colouring on the back and shoulders, and on the upper surfaces of the wings, is suffused with red. They have white colouring on the under surfaces of the wings, a white to cream belly, and white to cream thighs and undertail coverts; the tail itself is mainly red above, with darker centres to the feathers, and brown below, with red trim. Their irises vary in colour from red to brownish, and they have brownish legs and feet (Higgins et al. 2006).

The adult females have a bright red face, but differ from the adult males in having a brownish-grey breast, brown flanks (that retain the white spotting of the male), and brown thighs and uppertail coverts. They have paler, greyish-brown colouring on the crown and back of the head, the rear and sides of the neck, the back and shoulders, and the upper surfaces of the wings, and the red suffusion on the back and shoulders, and on the upper surfaces of the wings, is paler and weaker than in the adult males. The appearance is otherwise similar to that of adult males (Higgins et al. 2006).

Juvenile birds can be distinguished from the adults. The most obvious differences are the predominantly brown plumage (including brown plumage on the face), the duller and less extensive suffusion of red, the dark brown or greyish-black bill, and the absence of the white spots on the flanks (Higgins et al. 2006 ).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurs in pairs, small groups and, following the breeding season, often in loose flocks of 40 to 60 birds (Garnett & Bredl 1985; Todd 2006, pers. comm.)

In Australia, the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is found only on the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland (Schodde & Mason 1999), where it occurs in four separate subpopulations. The four subpopulations are located near Aurukun, near Pormpuraaw, at Magnificent Creek (near Kowanyama), and in Lakefield National Park, where the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) has been recorded along the Normanby River and in surrounding areas to the north, and along the Laura River to the south (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Dorricott & Garnett 2004). There has also been a single record of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) from between Aurukun and Pormpuraaw (Dorricott & Garnett 2004). The significance of this record is not known but, given the sedentary nature of the subspecies and the inaccessibility of the terrain in this region, it is possible that this record could be representative of an additional subpopulation (M.K. Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The area of occupancy is estimated to be 139 km². This estimate is based on recent records and was calculated using a GIS point layer in which all points were buffered by 500 m, and those within a 10 km radius were combined to create polygons (Dorricott & Garnett 2004). This estimate is less than the previous estimate of area of occupancy, 200 km², that was published by Garnett and Crowley (2000), but the difference between the two estimates is due to the different methods of calculation, rather than to a decrease in the area of occupancy (M.K. Todd 2006, pers comm.).

The area of occupancy is currently likely to be decreasing (Garnett & Crowley 2000), but no information is available to illustrate a decline. The area of occupancy appears to have declined during the 20th century.

The former distribution of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) included scattered sites on the eastern Cape York Peninsula, from the Claudie River to Loerlumba Lagoon (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data), and inland sites on the western Cape York Peninsula, near upper Murray Creek and upper Bottle Creek (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data). The two unconfirmed records of the Crimson Finch (subspecific status unknown) from north of these locations (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data) indicate that the distribution could formerly have extended to the northern tip of the Cape York Peninsula. The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) has not been recorded in recent times at any of the locations mentioned above (Dorricott & Garnett 2004), and is probably now extinct between the Claudie River and Princess Charlotte (Higgins et al. 2006), and at the other locations mentioned above (M.K. Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The extent of occurrence is estimated to be 55 000 km². This estimate, which is based on published maps, is considered to be of medium reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The extent of occurrence has likely remained stable in recent years (Garnett & Crowley 2000). However, it appears that the extent of occurrence declined during the 20th century. On the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, the distribution of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) formerly extended north of Aurukun, to the Watson River (Mathews 1925-1927). Recent sightings have only been from south of Aurukun, near the mouth of the Archer River (Barrett et al. 2003; Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data; Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

On the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula, the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) was recorded on the Claudie River in the early 20th century (MacGillivray 1918) but, despite searches, there have been no records there since (Dorricott & Garnett 2004). Furthermore, there are two unconfirmed historical records of the Crimson Finch (subspecific status unknown) from much farther north of the current accepted range, near South Alice Creek, and near Somerset on the northern tip of the Cape York Peninsula (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data), which could indicate that the distribution of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) was formerly much more widespread than it is today (and, consequently, that the extent of occurrence was formerly much greater than it is today).

The population of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurring in Australia is estimated at 2000 birds and is distributed across four geographically separate subpopulations, the largest of which is estimated to contain 1000 birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is held, in small numbers, by some private owners (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Mobbs 1990).

There are captive populations of the Crimson Finch at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, Territory Wildlife Park in the Northern Territory, and at Steve Martin Natural Encounters in the United States. The population at Territory Wildlife Park consists of birds from the black-bellied subspecies N. p. phaeton, but the subspecific status of the birds at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and at Steve Martin Natural Encounters is unknown (ISIS 2006).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurs on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, and in the Trans-Fly region of southern Papua New Guinea (Coates 1990; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is classified as Least Concern at the global level. The global population size is estimated at 20 000 breeding birds. The population in Papua New Guinea is estimated at 18 000 breeding birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

It is estimated that 10% (or 2000 breeding birds) of the estimated global population of 20 000 breeding birds occurs in Australia, but this estimate is considered to be of low reliability because both the Australian and global population sizes are poorly known (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) populations in Australia and Papua New Guinea are geographically separated, and the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) does not undertake any long-distance movements (Higgins et al. 2006). This indicates that the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) population in Australia is genetically isolated from the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) population in Papua New Guinea (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The population size and, to a lesser extent, distribution of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) are poorly known. This is because information on the finch is derived from a small number of opportunistic observations, and from two detailed studies that were conducted on the subpopulations near Pormpuraaw and in Lakefield National Park (Todd 2002; Todd et al. 2003), and from some recent targeted surveys conducted by M.K. Todd around the Claudie River (where the subspecies was not recorded) and at other sites around Pormupuraaw and Kowanyama (where the subspecies was recorded).

The total population size of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) in Australia is estimated at approximately 2000 breeding birds. However, this estimate is considered to be of low reliability because of the criptic nature of the species and the difficulty in surveying its habitat (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurs in four populations, located near Aurukun, near Pormpuraaw, at Magnificent Creek (near Kowanyama), and in Lakefield National Park (Dorricott & Garnett 2004). The Lakefield National Park population is the largest, and is estimated to consist of approximately 1000 breeding birds (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000). The Pormpuraaw and Magnificent Creek populations are estimated to consist of 300 to 500 breeding birds each, and the population near Aurukun, which was rediscovered in 2000, is estimated to consist of at least 50 breeding birds (Dorricott & Garnett 2004). However, these estimates are considered to be of low or poor reliability (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Lakefield National Park population is mainly located within Lakefield National Park, but there have also been nearby records on unallocated state land at Kalpower Station, and on leasehold land at Olive Vale Station (Dorricott & Garnett 2004). The populations near Aurukun and Pormpuraaw, and at Magnificent Creek, are located wholly on land that is managed by Aboriginal communities (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

The Aurukun population appears to have declined between the 1930s and 1980s (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) was common around Aurukun in the early 20th century (MacGillivray 1918), but this population, which was rediscovered in 2000, is now thought to consist of about 50 breeding birds (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

It is unlikely that there have been any recent changes in Crimson Finch (white-bellied) numbers in Australia (Garnett & Crowley 2000). However, the total population size does appear to have declined during the 20th century. This summation is based on the absence of recent records from several sites that were occupied during the late 19th century and the 20th century (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data; Dorricott & Garnett 2004; MacGillivray 1918; Mathews 1925-1927), and a documented decline in numbers in the population near Aurukun (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; MacGillivray 1918).

All four remaining populations of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) are important for the recovery and long-term survival of the subspecies. Based on estimates of size, the most important population occurs at Lakefield National Park, and this is followed, in order of importance, by the populations at Magnificent Creek and near Pormpuraaw, which are thought to be roughly equivalent in size, and the population near Aurukun (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

The generation length is estimated to be two years, but this estimate is considered to be of low reliability due to a lack of information on the life history of the subspecies (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Banding studies on the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) have recorded a very low rate of recapture between years. This suggests that there is a high degree of population turnover from year to year (Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurs in one conservation reserve, Lakefield National Park (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data; Dorricott & Garnett 2004). A draft recovery plan for the subspecies recommends that some management actions (including fencing, population monitoring and restoration of grasslands) be introduced in Lakefield National Park to benefit the local Crimson Finch (white-bellied) population (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

No definite cross-breeding has been recorded between the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) and the other, black-bellied subspecies of Crimson Finch, N. p. phaeton, or between the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) and any other species. However, one adult male specimen from Kowanyama, on the south-east Cape York Peninsula, has a dark margin separating the crimson flanks from the white belly (Higgins et al. 2006; Schodde & Mason 1999), and black-bellied birds have been recorded near Pormpuraaw and the Laura River, within the accepted range of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) (Higgins et al. 2006; Garnett & Crowley 2000). This information suggests that some interaction may occur at the south-eastern limits of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) distribution (Higgins et al. 2006; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurs in one conservation reserve, Lakefield National Park (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data; Dorricott & Garnett 2004). A draft recovery plan for the subspecies recommends that some management actions (including fencing, population monitoring and restoration of grasslands) be introduced in Lakefield National Park to benefit the local Crimson Finch (white-bellied) population (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) occurs in rank grasses and other vegetation that grows near bodies of fresh water such as rivers and swamps. It is especially common in habitats that are associated with Pandanus or dune swales (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Garnett & Bredl 1985; MacGillivray 1918).

Two key habitat types have been identified. The first, Pandanus type habitat, is usually located within 10 km of the coast, and consists of swampy grasslands with scattered Pandanus spiralis, or of dune woodlands with a dense understorey of long grass, a midstorey dominated by P. spiralis, and a canopy comprised of varying species of trees. Crimson Finch (white-bellied) sub-populations near Aurukun and Pormpuraaw inhabit this type of habitat (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

The second key habitat, cane-grass type habitat, consists of open forest with a dense understorey of grasses, and is usually located along watercourses. This is the type of habitat used by the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) sub-populations near Kowanyama and in the Lakefield region. The canopy in cane-grass habitat is usually dominated by Corymbia tessellaris on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula, and by C. tessellaris var. dallachyana on the west coast. The midstorey includes deciduous shrubs and palms such as Corypha elata and species of Livistona. In the Lakefield region, the understorey is mostly composed of Chionachne cyathopoda, although other grasses probably fulfil a similar role (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) has also been recorded around human settlement at Pormpuraaw (Garnett & Bredl 1985), where the habitat of the finch extends right to the edge of the town (Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The preferred habitat of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is regularly burnt by wildfire and deliberate burning. The finch is able to persist in burnt areas by occupying unburnt shrubs and other habitat remnants nearby. For example, near Pormpuraaw, the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) moved from its burnt preferred habitat into vegetation surrounding a lagoon in a crocodile farm, and into unburnt vine forest on nearby sand dunes (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is not known to occur in any of the threatened ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act 1999. However, the sub-population near Pormpuraaw could potentially occur in 'the community of native species dependent on natural discharge of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin'. The Great Artesian Basin community is listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act 1999,

The distribution of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) also overlaps with that of the Golden-shouldered Parrot Psephotus chrysopterygius, and the Buff-breasted Button-quail Turnix olivii, both of which occur in grassland habitats (Dorricott & Garnett 2004), and which are listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act 1999.

No information is available on the ages of sexual maturity or life expectancy in the Crimson Finch (white-bellied). However, at the Crimson Finch held in captivity are said to mature about three months after fledging (i.e. first departing the nest), to be capable of breeding during their first year (Morris 1958), and to live for approximately five years (Shepherd 1989).

Banding studies on the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) have recorded a very low rate of recapture between years. This suggests that there is a high degree of population turnover from year to year (Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) nests in pairs, usually in loose colonies (Todd 2006, pers. comm.). It has been recorded breeding from January to May in Australia (Atlas of Australian Birds, unpublished data; MacGillivray 1918; Todd 2002). However, breeding has been recorded in September, November and December in Papua New Guinea (Coates 1990; Rand 1942), and, based on breeding records for the other subspecies of Crimson Finch, N. p. phaeton, the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is probably capable of breeding thoughout the year (Todd 2002).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) builds its nests in Pandanus and Corypha palms, and occasionally in bushes (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Garnett & Dorricott 2004; MacGillivray 1918; Todd 2002). The nests are domed or spherical in shape, and are composed mainly of grassy material (Garnett & Crowley 2000; MacGillivray 1918). The eggs are pure white (MacGillivray 1918). There are no confirmed records of clutch-size, although one nest that was examined contained four eggs (MacGillivray 1915, 1918). Females of the black-bellied subspecies, N. p. phaeton, lay clutches of three to eight, but usually five or six, eggs (Storr 1980, 1984).

The young are cared for by both adults, and gather into loose flocks within a few days of leaving the nest (Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The breeding biology of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is otherwise unknown, but it is likely to be similar to that described for the Crimson Finch (see below).

At the species level (Crimson Finch), both parents incubate the eggs, and brood and feed the nestlings (Immelmann 1982). The incubation period has not been recorded in the wild, but in captivity it ranges from 11 to 15 days (Butler 1905; Shephard 1989; White 1995). The nestlings are said to depart the nest at exactly 21 days old (Immelmann 1982), but observations of captive birds show that the fledging period can actually range from 20 to 24 days (Shephard 1989; White 1995). In captivity, fledged young remain dependent on the adults for 14 to 21 days after leaving the nest (Morris 1958; Shephard 1989).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) feeds mainly on immature and ripe seeds of grasses and herbaceous plants, including Chrysopogon elongatus and Tridax procumbens, and species of Hibiscus, Panicum and Themeda (Thompson 1935; Todd et al. 2003). It also takes some animal matter such as insects and their larvae, lerp (the sugary protective coating excreted by psyllid nymphs) and spiders (MacGillivray 1918; Todd et al. 2003). The composition of the diet varies throughout the year, but seeds are the main food in all months. Animal items appear to be taken opportunistically (i.e. when they are available) (Todd et al. 2003), although spiders are said to be very prominent in the diet of adults when they are feeding nestlings (Todd 2006, pers. commm).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) forages on the ground and in vegetation (Todd et al. 2003; Todd 2006, pers. comm.), and occasionally captures insects in flight (MacGillivray 1918). It takes seeds from the ground and from the seed-heads of grasses and herbaceous plants, and plucks spiders and insects from the foliage of Pandanus and Corypha palms. It has also been observed collecting lerp from the canopy foliage of Corymbia tessellaris, and insect larvae from among the shoots of the legume Dendrolobium umbellatum (Todd et al. 2003; Todd 2006, pers. comm.), and capturing termite alates in flight (MacGillivray 1918). The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) usually stays near cover (i.e. near dense grasses or trees and shrubs, such as Barringtonia acutanglia) when foraging in grasslands or on patches of open, and often burnt, ground (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is described as a resident or sedentary bird that may undertake some local movements (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Todd 2006, pers. comm.). There are no records or evidence of long-distance movements, and the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is considered to be poorly adapted for long-distance flight because of its rounded wings and wedge-shaped tail (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

No information is available on the size of home ranges or territories by the Crimson Finch (white-bellied). However, pairs usually nest in loose colonies in which there is never more than one active nest located in a single tree. Each pair fiercely defends its nest-tree against intrusion by conspecifics (other birds of the same species) (Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is a distinct bird that is unlikely to be confused with any other species by a competent observer (Higgins et al. 2006). It can be distinguished from the other subspecies of Crimson Finch, N. p. phaeton, on the basis of several characters, the most obvious of which are its whitish (as opposed to black) belly and its overall paler colouration (Higgins et al. 2006; Schodde & Mason 1999; Todd et al. 2003).

The threats to the Crimson Finch (white-bellied), and their impact upon the subspecies, are poorly known. The major threat is habitat degradation. This can be caused by fires, invasive weeds and grazing animals (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

Fire: Fires, if they occur at the wrong time, and especially during the dry season, can destroy the finch's habitat. Large fires, capable of destroying large areas of habitat, are an infrequent occurrence in the riparian habitat that is occupied by the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) in the southern part of its range. However, it is possible that these rare but extensive fires in the late dry season may have restricted the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) to small areas of habitat along the banks of creeks (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Invasive weeds: The Rubber Vine Cryptostegia grandifolia, which is classified as a Weed of National Significance, has invaded some areas of Crimson Finch (white-bellied) habitat along the Mitchell River, where it is smothering the native vegetation, and may have been responsible for the disappearance of the subspecies from some parts of the Laura River (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The Rubber Vine degrades the habitat of the finch by shading native grasses and preventing their regeneration (Dorricott & Garnett 2004).

Grazing: Grazing mammals such as pigs and cattle can degrade riparian habitats during the dry season when they congregate around sources of fresh water and destroy the rank grasses by feeding upon and trampling them (Garnett & Crowley 2000; M.K. Todd 2006, pers. comm.). One formerly occupied site near Aurukun was degraded in this manner (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The other threat that has been identified is illegal trapping for the bird trade. The Crimson Finch (white-bellied) is highly valued in the avicultural industry, and a number of birds were introduced for trade, from an unknown source, during the 1990s. Information from aviculturists suggests that the illegal collection of birds is now a minor threat, and is not sufficiently common to require specific action, although some illegal trapping may continue (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

It is considered unlikely that a cyclone could have a major impact on the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) population (M.K. Todd 2006, pers. comm.).

The long-term survival of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) depends on the management of fire regimes, and on the mitigation of habitat degradation caused by the invasive Rubber Vine and grazing mammals (Dorricott & Garnett 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The following recovery actions have been implemented:

  • The fire history of the Laura River basin has been documented (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

  • A study has been completed on the ecology of the congeneric Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda, which occupies a similar range and habitats, and is threatened by the same processes (i.e. fire, invasive weeds, grazing mammals), and thus may provide some useful information that could also be applicable to the similar Crimson Finch (white-bellied) (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The following recovery actions have been recommended in a draft recovery plan for the subspecies (Dorricott & Garnett 2004):

  • Introduce management of the invasive Rubber Vine at Crimson Finch (white-bellied) sites at Magnificent Creek and in Lakefield National Park.

  • Reduce grazing in Lakefield National Park by erecting fencing around the park boundary and selected waterholes, and by conducting regular musters to remove roaming stock.

  • Develop a management strategy to protect suitable habitat near Pormpuraaw.

  • Establish population monitoring at selected sites near Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama, and in Lakefield National Park, and analyse monitoring data to establish population trends.

  • Investigate the potential for reintroduction to the Lockhart River region.

  • Submit a proposal to have the conservation status of the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered under the EPBC Act 1999 and under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

  • Coordinate the recovery program through liason between staff from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and relevant land management bodies, Lakefield Park Rangers, and traditional land owners.

  • Review information and recovery actions before the current (draft) recovery plan expires, and develop and implement a new plan that better reflects the improved knowledge of the subspecies.

In addition to the actions listed above, Garnett and Crowley (2000) recommended that fire management plans be developed and implemented, in consultation with land managers, at occupied sites, and that a captive breeding population be established to supply birds for the avicultural industry to circumvent illegal collection. They also recommended that communities at Aurukun (where the Crimson Finch [white-bellied] was later rediscovered) and the Lockhart River be consulted about the possibility of reintroduction.

Three detailed studies have been conducted on the Crimson Finch (white-bellied). These studies have examined the breeding biology (Todd 2002), bill morphology and diet (Todd et al. 2003), and plumage and morphometry (Higgins et al. 2006) of the subspecies.

A draft version of a joint recovery plan for the Crimson Finch (white-bellied) and the Star Finch (Cape York Peninsula) Neochmia ruficauda clarescens has been prepared (Dorricott & Garnett 2004), but has not yet been adopted.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection National recovery plan for the white-bellied subspecies of the Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton evangelinae and the northern subspecies of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda clarescens (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzm) [Recovery Plan].
Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pl) [Internet].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Sea level rise:Inundation associated with climate change Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pl) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Cryptostegia grandiflora (Rubber Vine, Rubbervine, India Rubber Vine, India Rubbervine, Palay Rubbervine, Purple Allamanda) National recovery plan for the white-bellied subspecies of the Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton evangelinae and the northern subspecies of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda clarescens (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzm) [Recovery Plan].
Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pl) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pl) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Bos taurus (Domestic Cattle) Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pl) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:plant National recovery plan for the white-bellied subspecies of the Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton evangelinae and the northern subspecies of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda clarescens (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzm) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National recovery plan for the white-bellied subspecies of the Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton evangelinae and the northern subspecies of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda clarescens (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzm) [Recovery Plan].
Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pl) [Internet].

Barrett, G., A. Silcocks, S. Barry, R. Cunningham & R. Poulter (2003). The New Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Boles, W.E. (1988a). Comments on the subspecies of Australian native and introduced finches. Emu. 88:20-24.

Butler, A.G. (1905). The duration of the period of incubation. Avicultural Magazine (New Series). 3:151-164.

Coates, B.J. (1990a). The Birds of Papua New Guinea Including the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. Volume 2 Passerines. Alderley, Queensland: Dove Publications.

Dorricott, K.E. & S.T. Garnett (2000). Recovery Plan for the white-bellied subspecies of the Crimson Finch, Neochmia phaeton evangelinae and the Cape York Peninsula subspecies of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda clarescens, 2004-2008. Report to Environment Australia, Canberra. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.

Ford, J. (1986). Avian hybridisation and allopatry in the region of the Einasleigh Uplands and Burdekin-Lynd Divide, north-eastern Queensland. Emu. 86:87--110.

Garnett, S. & R. Bredl (1985). Birds in the vicinity of Edward River Settlement. Part II. Discussion, references, list of Passerine birds. Sunbird. 15:23,25-40.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & S.J. Cowling (2006). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. In: Part A. Boatbill to Larks. Volume 7. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Immelmann, K. (1982). Australian Finches in Bush and Aviary. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

International Species Information System (ISIS) (2006d). Locations of captive species of birds. [Online]. www.isis.org. [Accessed: 30-May-2006].

Keast, A. (1958). Intraspecific variation in Australian finches. Emu. 58:219--246.

MacGillivray, W. (1915). Descriptions of nests and eggs of Monarcha canescens and Neochmia phaeton albiventer. Emu. 15:36-37.

MacGillivray, W. (1918). Ornithologists in North Queensland. Emu. 17:180-212.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Mathews, G.M. (1910-27). The Birds of Australia. Witherby, London.

Mobbs, A.J. (1990). The Complete Book of Australian Finches. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.

Morris, D. (1958). The comparative ethology of grassfinches (Erythrurae) and mannikins (Amadinae). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 131:389-439.

Paynter, R.A., ed. (1968). Check-list of Birds of the World Volume 14. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rand, A.L. (1942). Results of the Archbold expeditions. 42. Birds of the 1936-1937 New Guinea expeditions. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 79:289-366.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Shephard, M. (1989). Aviculture in Australia: Keeping and Breeding Aviary Birds. Melbourne: Black Cockatoo Press.

Storr, G.M. (1980). Birds of the Kimberley Division, Western Australia. Special Publications of the Western Australian Museum, No. 11. 11:1-117. Perth, Western Australia: Western Australian Museum.

Storr, G.M. (1984c). Revised list of Queensland birds. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement. 19:1-189.

Thomson, D.F. (1935). Birds of Cape York Peninsula. Government Printer, Melbourne.

Todd, M. (2006). Personal communication.

Todd, M.K. (2002). Nest-site and breeding-season data for the Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton in Australia. Australian Bird Watcher. 19:161-171.

Todd, M.K., A. Felton & S.T. Garnett (2003). Morphological and dietary differences between common and uncommon subspecies of Crimson Finch Neochima phaeton, and Star Finch Neochima ruficauda, in northern Australia. Emu. 103:141-148.

White, D. (1995). The Crimson Finch: "unjustifiably crucified". Australian Aviculture. 49:186-189.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Neochmia phaeton evangelinae in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 1 Oct 2014 10:49:01 +1000.