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Swee Waxbill - BirdForum Opus

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

Estrilda melanotis
Includes: Angola Waxbill


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, Swaziland and extreme south-western Mozambique. There is an isolated population in Angola.


Some authorities consider C. melanotis to be conspecific with Yellow-bellied Waxbill (C. quartinia). Others believe that Swee Waxbill should be split once more into C. melanotis from South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland; and C. bocagei from Angola (Angola Waxbill). Yet others place the subspecies bocagei in Yellow-bellied Waxbill (C. quartinia).

This complex has been placed in the genus Estrilda.


There are 2 subspecies[1]

  • C. m. melanotis:
  • C. m. bocagei:


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, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  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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