Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda)


French: Diamant à longue queue German: Spitzschwanzamadine Spanish: Diamante colilargo

Amadina acuticauda


, 1840,

King Sound, Western Australia


Race hecki sometimes treated as a separate species on basis of morphology (bill colour) and differences in quantitative genetics (although no genetic comparison made of races of other members of genus), and slight differences exist in songs and loud contact calls. Conversely, other authors have questioned whether two races are taxonomically recognizable, as distribution of yellow-billed and orange-billed birds is continuous across N Australia, with intergradation in W Northern Territory (and bill-colour differences do not persist in museum specimens); in addition, the two are similar in courtship behaviour, and in captivity individuals with no prior breeding experience do not mate assortatively. Further study required. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. acuticauda (Gould, 1840) – Long-tailed Finch – N Western Australia (Kimberley).
  • P. a. hecki Heinroth, 1900 – Red-billed Finch – N end of Northern Territory and NW Queensland (S to Mt Isa), in N Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    15·5 cm; 10·9-17·2 g (hecki). Male nominate race has forehead to nape and face pale bluish-grey, lores black, hindneck buffy brown, mantle, back... read more


    Soft contact call "tet", loud distance contact call a descending "peew" or... read more


    Dry grassy savanna country with watercourses, grassy bushland, and Pandanus savanna.

    Food and feeding

    Ripe and half-ripe seeds of grasses, especially those of Sorghum, Iseilema, Eragrostis and Eriachne obtusa... read more


    Breeds in wet season and post-wet season, eggs recorded in Feb–Nov. Nests in loose colonies, generally no more than one nest in each... read more


    Resident. Local movements occur, flocks of thousands appearing near water during extended drought;... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to locally common. In N Northern Territory, recorded densities of 0·16-0·24 birds/ha at Howards Peninsula, 0·56 birds/ha at Yinberrie... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (2020). Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).