|Three adults of the nominate race at Toledo Zoo, USA|
A = race peronata
B = race leucotis
The masked finch (Poephila personata) is a small passerine bird in the estrildid finch family, Estrildidae. It is a common resident of dry savannah across northern Australia, from the Kimberley, across the Top End, the Gulf country and the southern part of Cape York Peninsula, as far east as Chillagoe, but always near water.
The masked finch is 12.5-13.5 cm long. The male is larger, but the sexes are otherwise similar. It is cinnamon-brown above and paler below with a white rump, black mark on the flanks and black face mask. It has a heavy yellow bill and a pointed black tail. The eastern subspecies P. p. leucotis has whitish cheeks.
Pairs or small flocks of masked finches forage through the day, mostly on the ground for fallen grass seeds. In the evenings and early mornings, large numbers—sometimes thousands— can gather around waterholes to drink, bathe, and preen, flicking their tails sideways and chattering incessantly.
Pairs build a domed nest from grasses, lined with fine grass, feathers, and charcoal, in the late wet or early dry season. The nest position varies: it can be as high as 20 metres or simply hidden in long grass. Five to six white eggs are laid.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Poephila personata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Arnaiz-Villena, A; Ruiz-del-Valle V; Gomez-Prieto P; Reguera R; Parga-Lozano C; Serrano-Vela I (2009). "Estrildinae Finches (Aves, Passeriformes) from Africa, South Asia and Australia: a Molecular Phylogeographic Study" (PDF). The Open Ornithology Journal. 2: 29–36. doi:10.2174/1874453200902010029.
- BirdLife International (2008) Species factsheet: Poephila personata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 5 August 2008.
- Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan & Davies, John (1993) Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide, Christopher Helm, London.
- Pizzey, Graham & Knight, Frank (1997) Birds of Australia, HarperCollins, London.