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Swee Waxbill - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Alan Manson
Cavern Resort, KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, South Africa
Coccopygia melanotis

Estrilda melanotis


Length 9-10 cm, mass 8g
Adult male: Black face and upper throat contrasts with grey crown and nape and white lower throat. Breast pale grey and belly pale buff. Bill black above and red below and eyes red.
Adult female: Similar to the male, but has a pale grey face and white chin and throat.
Juvenile: Similar to the female, but duller, with a black bill and dark brown eyes.

Photo by Mybs
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa


Southern and eastern South Africa, Lesotho, eSwatini, while rare or localized in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.


Some authorities consider C. melanotis to be conspecific with Yellow-bellied Waxbill (C. quartinia) and/or Angola Waxbill C. bocagei.

This complex has been placed in the genus Estrilda.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Forest and plantation edges, bushy vegetation, parks, gardens and farmyards.


Does not move long distances, other than local altitudinal migration in some populations. Although fairly confiding, they are easily overlooked as they seldom venture far from dense cover.


Forages in pairs or small groups on plants and on the ground for seeds and insects.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is enclosed and oval with the entrance on the side and near the top. It is built by both sexes using grass. Three to nine eggs are laid in summer (October to April). Parasitised by Pin-tailed Whydah.


The common name is derived from the "swee-swee" flight- and contact-call.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Fry H, Keith S, Woodcook M & Willis I. 2004. Birds of Africa Vol VII: Sparrows to Buntings. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0713665319
  3. 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
  4. Avibase

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