An adult crimson finch
Neochmia phaeton
A crimson finch nestling, banded and ready to return to the nest.

Crimson Finch Project

Do condition indices predict reproductive success and survival in Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton)? This is a joint project between Virginia Tech and Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

by Olya Milenkaya




The primary research objectives of the project are:

  • To describe the breeding biology and life history traits of wild Crimson Finches.
  • To explore the variation in condition indices and how individual covariates, such as sex, age, and breeding stage, affect these indices during the breeding season.
  • To test whether condition indices predict annual reproductive success and survival in adults.
  • To test whether condition indices predict the survival of nestlings.

Study Species

Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton) are found in riparian areas throughout the tropical savannas of northern Australia and New Guinea. They are small, sedentary, non-territorial granivores. The white bellied subspecies (N.p. evangelinae) is endangered in Queensland while the nominate subspecies (N.p. phaeton) is common in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The species depends on two distinct habitat types: the riparian zone where they nest and the adjoining savanna where they forage on grass seeds.



Field Site

The Crimson Finch Project is privileged to be located at the Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, owned and managed by the non-profit Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Mornington is in the heart of Australia’s scenic and rugged Kimberley region. The property covers over 3,000 km2, includes savannahs, rivers, and gorges, and is home to over 200 species of birds. The field site is about two kilometers of riparian habitat along Annie Creek, a minute’s walk from camp.



Olya Milenkaya, PhD Candidate (download CV PDF)
Department of Biological Sciences, Avian Ecology Lab
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech)
4107 Derring Hall (0406)
Blacksburg, VA 24061 USA



Many thanks to our field assistants: Roy Churchwell, Evan Rehm, and Jennifer Bruce. This project would not be possible without the following organizations:

  • Australian Wildlife Conservancy
  • Virginia Tech
  • Mark Bult Design