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African Silverbill - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo by the late Jan Van den Broeck
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 2011
Euodice cantans

Lonchura cantans


11 cm (4¼ in)
This is a small drab finch-like bird with grey-brown upperparts, pale buff underparts and a dark, somewhat pointed tail; the most obvious feature being the large silver bill!


A rather rare Estrildid finch found in sub-Saharan Africa north of the equator.

Northern Africa: Egypt
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegambia, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea
Eastern Africa: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania
Middle East: Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain

Common in dry habitats in the Hawaiian Islands (introduced).

Subspecies orientalis
Photo by rdavis
Awash, Ethiopia, January 2015


Some authorities place this species in genus Lonchura. [1]


Two subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • L.c. cantans:
  • L.c. orientalis :


Savanna, arid landscape with thorn bush, and grasslands with acacias or sparse grassland. Found from 250-1500 m. Often near settlement


Very gregarious, often seen cuddled up together on branches.


They generally feed on the ground. Their diet consists mostly of grass seeds and seeds from weeds and small shrubs. Also insects such as aphids are eaten.


The nest is a round bundle of grasses, lined with soft fibres and sometimes feathers, placed in a thick bush or hedge. 3-6 oval, smooth white eggs are laid and incubated by both parents for 11-13 days. The young fledge after 21 days.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved January 2016)

Recommended Citation

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