|Adult Red-eared Firetail.|
Firetails are found in near coastal and coastal zones from the Perth to Cape Arid but are most common in the forested areas of the lower Darling Scarp, Warren region, and sand dune heaths on the South Coast from Walpole to Bremer Bay. They are also found in small numbers in the Perth hills (upper Darling Scarp), and used to reside on the Swan Coastal Plain, but are now absent from this area after extensive clearing of suitable habitat . They occur in a variety of habitats but generally prefer thick vegetation along creeks and streams, dense heaths on coastal dunes, paperbarks, and gardens with thick bushes interspersed with grass.
|Immature Red-eared Firetail at Denmark.|
Red-eared Firetails have been described as “the most solitary of the Australian grass finches” and they generally remain sedentary as mated pairs within a small territory of only 100-200 metres . This solitary habit, combined with their shy nature and dense habitat, means they can be difficult to find even when present. One survey  found that the use of call playback allowed their detection in many jarrah forest gullies where they were otherwise invisible. So, while they have always been uncommon (especially in the northern jarrah forest), it is thought their population remains stable and continuous across their range, thus they are one of those few species to have actually been downgraded to a status of ‘least concern’.
|Red-eared Firetail at Denmark.|
Some southwest hotspots for Red-eared Firetail include: Albany (Ellen Cove Boardwalk, Little Grove, Lake Seppings (teatree thickets north of carpark), and beach dunes at Two Peoples Bay), Cheynes Beach, Bridgetown (Blackwood River), Denmark (Little River area), Dunsborough (Cape Naturaliste), Manjimup (Fonty’s Pool and Smiths Brook Reserve).
They are common in Dwellingup (Lane Poole Reserve at Nanga, Scarp Pool and generally along the Murray River) and Serpentine Falls (teatree thickets below the falls). If you can’t get that far from Perth they are in the Perth hills but are less common and can be hard to find. They are seen regularly at Ellis Brook (below the falls), Victoria Reservoir (lawn area below the dam wall), Bickley Brook (east of Hardinge Road on the heritage trail), and Wungong Gorge (in the orchard well west of the toilets at recreation lake or further west along the brook).
Close to Perth they can be particularly hard to find and it is best to listen for their calls, though sometimes they are seen feeding in the open on the grass at Victoria Reservoir. Victoria Reservoir is also a great spot to find the Red-browed Finch, also Schipp Rd in Kalamunda and Carmel Rose Gardens (which also occasionally has Red-eared Firetails). Red-broweds are also found at Bickley Brook and Ellis Brook, although they are less common than the Red-eared Firetails.
|Red-browed Finch, an introduced species from the east coast that has estalished a self-sustaining wild population in the Perth hills.|
 Serventy, D.L. and Whittell, H.M. (1948) A Handbook of the Birds of Western Australia (with the exception of the Kimberley Division). Patersons Press Ltd, Perth, WA, 1948.
 Frith HJ (Ed) Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds. Reader’s Digest Services, Sydney NSW, 1983.
 Nichols OG, Watkins D & Kabay ED (1982). The Distribution of the Red-Eared Firetail Emblema oculata in Relation to Bauxite Mining in the Northern Jarrah Forest. Emu 82(3): 169-172