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Red browed finch02.jpg
Red-browed finch, Neochmia temporalis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Passeroidea
Family: Estrildidae
Bonaparte, 1850

See text

Estrildidae, or estrildid finches, is a family of small seed-eating passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They comprise species commonly known as munias, mannikins, firefinches, parrotfinches and waxbills. Despite the word "finch" being included in the common names of some species, they are not closely related to birds with this name in other families, such as the Fringillidae, Emberizidae or Passerellidae.

They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short, thick, but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but vary widely in plumage colours and patterns.

All estrildids build large, domed nests and lay five to ten white eggs. Many species build roost nests. Some of the firefinches and pytilias are hosts to the brood-parasitic indigobirds and whydahs, respectively.

Most are sensitive to cold and require warm, usually tropical, habitats, although a few, such as the eastern alpine mannikin, mountain firetail, red-browed finch, and the genus Stagonopleura, have adapted to the cooler climates of southern Australia and the highlands of New Guinea.

The smallest species of the family is the Shelley's oliveback (Nesocharis shelleyi) at a mere 8.3 cm (3.3 in), although the lightest species is the black-rumped waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes) at 6 g (0.21 oz). The largest species is the Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) at 17 cm (6.7 in) and 25 g (0.88 oz).[1]


The family Estrildidae was introduced in 1850 by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte as "Estreldinae", a spelling variant of the subfamily name.[2][3] In the list of world birds maintained by Frank Gill, Pamela Rasmussen and David Donsker on behalf of the International Ornithological Committee (IOC) the family contains 139 species divided into 41 genera.[4] Molecular phylogenetic studies have shown the family Estrildidae is sister to the family Viduidae containing the indigobirds and whydahs. The two families diverged around 15.5 million year ago.[5] The most recent common ancestor of the Estrildidae is estimated to have lived around 10.9 million years ago.[6] A genetic study of the Estrildidae by Urban Olsson and Per Alström published in 2020 identified 6 major clades. The radiations within these clades occurred between 4.5 and 8.9 million years ago. The authors proposed that each of these clades should be treated as a subfamily.[6] This contrasts with an earlier proposal in which the family was divided into three subfamilies.[7]


Heteromunia – pictorella mannikin

Oreostruthus – mountain firetail

Stagonopleura – firetails (3 species)

Neochmia – finches (2 species)

Emblema – painted finch

Bathilda – star finch

Aidemosyne – plum-headed finch

Stizoptera – double-barred finch

Taeniopygia – zebra finch

Poephila – finches (3 species)


Spermestes – mannikins, silverbill (4 species)

Lepidopygia – Madagascar mannikin

Euodice – silverbills (2 species)

Padda – sparrows (2 species)

Mayrimunia – streak-headed mannikin

Lonchura – munias, mannikins (27 species)


Chloebia – Gouldian finch

Erythrura – parrotfinches (12 species)


Nesocharis – olivebacks (2 species)

Coccopygia – waxbills (3 species)

Mandingoa – green twinspot

Cryptospiza – crimsonwings (4 species)

Parmoptila – antpeckers (3 species)

Nigrita – nigritas (4 species)

Delacourella – grey-headed oliveback

Brunhilda – waxbills (2 species)

Glaucestrilda – waxbills (3 species)

Estrilda – waxbills (11 species)


Ortygospiza – quailfinch

Amadina – finches (2 species)

Amandava – avadavats, waxbill (3 species)


Granatina – grenadier, waxbill (2 species)

Uraeginthus – cordon-bleus, waxbill (3 species)

Spermophaga – bluebills (3 species)

Pyrenestes – seedcrackers (3 species)

Pytilia – pytilias (5 species)

Euschistospiza – twinspots (2 species)

Hypargos – twinspots (2 species)

Clytospiza – brown twinspot

Lagonosticta – firefinches (10 species)

Phylogeny based on a study of the Estrildidae by Urban Olsson and Per Alström published in 2020. The locust finch in the genus Paludipasser was not included in the study.[6]

Genera list[edit]

Image Genus Living species
Pictorella munia taronga zoo.jpg Heteromunia Mathews, 1913
Mountain Firetail.jpg Oreostruthus De Vis, 1898
Stagonopleura bella female - Melaleuca.jpg Stagonopleura Reichenbach, 1850
Red-browed Finch - Penrith.jpg Neochmia Gray, GR, 1849
Emblema pictum -Karratha, Pilbara, Western Australia, Australia-8.jpg Emblema Gould, 1842
Neochmia ruficauda.jpg Bathilda Reichenbach, 1862
Plum-headed Finch-Neochmia modesta.jpg Aidemosyne Reichenbach, 1862
Taeniopygia bichenovii 2 - Glen Davis.jpg Stizoptera Oberholser, 1899
Taeniopygia guttata -Karratha, Pilbara, Western Australia, Australia -male-8 (2).jpg Taeniopygia Reichenbach, 1862
Poephila acuticauda - Bird Walk.jpg Poephila Gould, 1842
Mannikin Bronze 2007 04 08 0545b, crop.jpg Spermestes Swainson, 1837
Madagascar Munia - Madagascar S4E6942 (22568997107).jpg Lepidopygia Reichenbach, 1862
Indian Silverbill RWD12d.jpg Euodice Reichenbach, 1862
Padda oryzivora -University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA-8.jpg Padda Reichenbach, 1850
Mayrimunia Wolters, 1949
Lonchura atricapilla jagori -Cebu-8-3c.jpg Lonchura Sykes, 1832
Gouldian Finch (Bird enclosure) Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, Queensland (32149977195).jpg Chloebia Reichenbach, 1862
Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch.JPG Erythrura Swainson, 1837
NesocharisShelleyiGronvold.jpg Nesocharis Alexander, 1903
Swee waxbill 2008 05 18 14 08 26 5958.jpg Coccopygia Reichenbach, 1862
Green twinspot 2014 10 19 1056.jpg Mandingoa Hartert, E, 1919
Abyssinian Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza salvadorii) (male).jpg Cryptospiza Salvadori, 1884
Redfrontedantpeckerfemale.jpg Parmoptila Cassin, 1859
Uganda 2011 246-crop.jpg Nigrita Strickland, 1843
Grey-headed Oliveback, Poli, Cameroon (5891711500).jpg Delacourella Wolters, 1949
Black-faced waxbill, or black-cheeked waxbill, Estrilda erythronotos, at Zaagkuildrift Road near Kgomo Kgomo, Limpopo, South Africa (33418486332).jpg Brunhilda Reichenbach, 1862
Lavender waxbill (Estrilda caerulescens).jpg Glaucestrilda Roberts, 1922
Estrilda astrild -Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain-8 (1).jpg Estrilda Swainson, 1827
Flickr - Rainbirder - African Quailfinch (Ortygospiza atricollis) male.jpg Ortygospiza Sundevall, 1850
Paludipasser Neave, 1909
Amadina erythrocephala (l) edit.jpg Amadina Swainson, 1827
Amandava amandava (VijayCavale).jpg Amandava Blyth, 1836
Violet-eared waxbill, Uraeginthus granatinus, at Pilanesberg National Park, Northwest Province, South Africa (28037408514).jpg Granatina Sharpe, 1890
Red-cheeked cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus bengalus) male.jpg Uraeginthus Cabanis, 1851
Western Bluebill m - Gambia (32528245061).jpg Spermophaga Swainson, 1837
Black-bellied Seedcracker - near Kakum NP - Ghana 14 S4E2847.jpg Pyrenestes Swainson, 1837
Green-winged Pytilia, Pytilia melba at Pilanesberg National Park, Northwest Province, South Africa (17303689060).jpg Pytilia Swainson, 1837
Bloedel Conservatory Bird (34984419890).jpg Euschistospiza Wolters, 1943
Peters's Twinspot, Sakania, DRC (9999020853).jpg Hypargos Reichenbach, 1862
Brown Twinspot - Budongo - Uganda 06 4823 (22998376511).jpg Clytospiza Shelley, 1896
Red-billed firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala senegala) male.jpg Lagonosticta Cabanis, 1851


  1. ^ "Estrildid FINCHes".
  2. ^ Bonaparte, Charles Lucian (1850). Conspectus Generum Avium (in Latin). Vol. 1. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 450.
  3. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Vol. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. pp. 117, 156, 218, 228. hdl:2246/830.
  4. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (January 2023). "Waxbills, parrotfinches, munias, whydahs, Olive Warbler, accentors, pipits". IOC World Bird List Version 13.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  5. ^ Oliveros, C.H.; et al. (2019). "Earth history and the passerine superradiation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. 116 (16): 7916–7925. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813206116. PMC 6475423. PMID 30936315.
  6. ^ a b c Olsson, Urban; Alström, Per (2020). "A comprehensive phylogeny and taxonomic evaluation of the waxbills (Aves: Estrildidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 146: 106757. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106757. PMID 32028027. S2CID 211048731.
  7. ^ Payne, Robert B. (2010). "Family Estrildidae (Waxbills)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D.A. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 15: Weavers to New World Warblers. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions. pp. 234–377. ISBN 978-84-96553-68-2.

External links[edit]