Like other finch species, they are very busy birds. They announce their arrival with a series of high-pitched zeets and then get straight down to work. After a quick inspection of the vegetation, a bird selects a stem, plucks it or snips it from the plant and flies into the scrub.
Some of the stems are more than 60 cm long and trail behind the bird like an aeroplane's banner. The finches ascend in stages to about 4 m and then disappear into the rainforest. Wherever the nest is located, I hope the entrance is narrow enough to exclude catbirds.
Even though they sportingly let me know when they're around, the speed with which they conduct their business means I can't always get the camera set up in time. Still, fuzzy photos are marginally better than none and you should have seen the images I ditched. Even J.M.W.Turner would have shaken his head and sent me an email saying Y U NO FOCUS?
In addition to the nominate subspecies (Neochmia t. temporalis), which extends along the E and SE coast, there is a FNQ subspecies (Neochima t. minor). The latter occurs north of Townsville and is characterised by pale grey to white feathers on the underparts. Except in the very far north of its range, where it has dark grey on its head, apparently. But the two subspecies intergrade between the Townsville and Cooktown, so I have absolutely no idea which one I've got here. If not a hybrid. Not that it matters, because I'm merely watching them, not studying them. Estrildidae systematists, let me know if you can sort out this conundrum. I'm afraid all red-browed finches look the same to me.