Waxbills and Grassfinches: Estrildidae
Common Waxbill (estrilda Astrild): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Common waxbills are mostly fawn in color, with upperparts that are darker than lower parts, a striped body, red bill, and a red stripe from the bill across the eye to the ear. Males and females look alike, having the same colors. Juveniles look paler than adults and with fainter barring. Adults are 4.3 to 5.1 inches (11 to 13 centimeters) long.
Geographic range: They are found generally in southern Africa, specifically in southern Senegal, east to Ethiopia, south to South Africa, and generally throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. They have been introduced in Portugal, Brazil, and many islands throughout the world, including Hawaii, Amirantes, Tahiti, Rodriques, Reunion, Mauritius, St. Helena, the Seychelles, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda.
Habitat: Common waxbills live in areas with tall grasses such as marshes, reed beds, abandoned cultivated areas, gardens, grassy paths and clearings, and farms and plantations.
Diet: They eat small seeds (such as grass seeds) taken from plants and off the ground. Termites and other insects are also sometimes eaten.
Behavior and reproduction: Common waxbills are very social birds, often found in small flocks during the breeding season and larger flocks (sometimes numbering in the thousands) at other times. Their calls include such sounds as "chip," "tchic," and "pit" while their song is often described as a "tcher-tcher-preee," although other varieties are often heard. They build a pear-shaped nest of grass stems that is located at or near the ground. Females lay four to six white eggs. The incubation period is eleven to thirteen days, and the fledgling period is about twenty days.
Common waxbills and people: People often keep common waxbills in cages, and have been bred in aviaries.
Conservation status: These birds are not threatened, but their trade (importing and exporting them) is regulated. ∎
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