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The Beautiful Firetail is a small thick-set finch with an olive-brown body and a white breast with dark fine barring. The head has a black mask with pale blue eye ring and fairly thick, red bill. The rump is crimson. The legs and feet are pink-cream. The wings are short and rounded and the tail short and square-tipped. The juveniles are duller than the adults with a smaller eye patch and a blackish bill.
The Beautiful Firetail lives in swampy grassy spots in coastal belts of dry forest, shrubby heath, tea-tree scrub, casuarinas and never far from water.