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Red-headed Finch - BirdForum Opus

Amadina erythrocephala
Photo © by Mybs
Kgalagadi Transfrontier park, South Africa


Length 13 cm (about size of Cape Sparrow); bill very heavy; tail rounded.
Adult male: Whole head bright red; rest of upperparts greyish brown, faintly barred on rump (whole upperparts barred in Cut-throat Finch); breast and flanks fawn, spotted with white, each spot outlined in black; lower belly white; under tail barred black, white and brown.
Adult female: Similar to male, but head brown above, barred black and white on throat; female Cut-throat Finch barred black above.
Immature: Similar to adults, but duller; male has only trace of red on head. Chick: Palate pale with 5 black spots; throat and lower half of mouth black.

Photo © by Alan Manson
North of Harrismith, South Africa, June 2008


Western Africa: Angola
Eastern Africa: Zambia
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho



Two subspecies are recognized[1]:


Photo © by peterday
Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan 2019

Open grassland with clumps of trees or small plantations, dry savanna, farmyards, cultivated fields.



Breeding: Breeds mainly in the winter months (February to September) throughout southern Africa; almost any month in the Kalahari, depending on rainfall. Nest: Pad or ball of grass and feathers; in old nest of sparrow, Ploceus weaver (especially of Chestnut Weaver in n Namibia), Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Sociable Weaver, or in hole in tree or building; solitary or in small colony of 2-3 pairs in adjacent nest chambers. Clutch: 2-4, 2-11 eggs (usually 4-6). Eggs: White and rounded. Incubation: 12-14 days by both sexes. Nestling: 15-21 days; fed by both parents.

This species has been known to hybridise with the Cut-throat Amadina fasciata (Tarboton, 2007).


Its diet includes seeds and insects.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  3. Tarboton W. 2007. Hybrid Red-headed x Cut-throat Finch. http://www.birdinfo.co.za/landbirds/34_hybrid_red-headed_cut-throat_finch.htm. Downloaded 22 October 2007.

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