Waxbills
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Red-billed Firefinch L: 10 cm (4") Firefinches are small, thickset, thick-billed ground birds . Three species occur in Kruger, of which the Red-billed Firefinch is by far the most common, and readily identified by its pinkish bill . African Firefinch (not illustrated) has a slaty crown and a steel-blue bill, and Jameson’s Firefinch (not illustrated) has a pinkish head and steel-blue bill . The Red-billed Firefinch is a widespread and common resident in the park, often feeding on grasses or on the ground close to thickets in woodland, or near water where it frequently drinks and bathes in the company of other small seed-eating birds . It has a melodic “swee-tee-eeer” song and gives a spitting, tinny “prrrrrt” call . This firefinch is the host of the nest parasite Village Indigobird (page 162) . BlueWaxbill L: 13 cm (5") This waxbill is readily identified by its entirely sky-blue underparts, rump and tail, silver-pink bill and grey-brown upperparts . The female is paler than the male, and juveniles are mostly grey-brown with a powder-blue wash to the face . It is a common and widespread resident in a variety of habitats in Kruger, favouring drier woodlands close to permanent water where it regularly comes to drink, often dispersing during perods of drought . It feeds mainly on grass seeds but will also take insects, and frequently gives a loud and distinctive high-pitched “tsee-tsee” call, especially when flushed . CommonWaxbill L: 12 cm (4·5") A finely barred, grey-brown waxbill with a waxy red bill, a scarlet ‘bandit’s’ eye-mask, diffuse reddish belly patch, and dark under the tail . The sexes are alike but juveniles are dull-brown, with a dark bill . This is a common and widespread resident in Kruger, favouring long grass near wetlands, but also ventures into camps and woodland, where it feeds primarily on seeds . To protect its eggs and young from predators, the Common Waxbill builds a remarkable nest with a false entrance and disguises it with animal scats and fur . However, this deception does not fool the brood-parasitic Pin-tailed Whydah (page 160), which uses this waxbill as its main host species . Waxbills are small finches that are inconspicuous despite their bright coloration. Waxbills: 1 common waxbill 156 BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS blue waxbill red-billed firefinch juvenile juvenile female male 157 Green-winged Pytilia L: 13 cm (5") A distinctive waxbill with a red bill, rump and tail, olive-green back and wings, grey nape, and barred underparts . The male has an orange-red forehead and throat, and a goldengreen band across the upper breast . The more subdued female lacks the breast-band and has an all-grey head, and juveniles are similar but have a dark bill . This is a common and widespread resident throughout Kruger but favours drier woodland with permanent water to which it comes to drink . It feeds on seeds and insects . The Green-winged Pytilia is the host of the brood-parasitic Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah (page 161) . Bronze Mannikin L: 9 cm (3·5") This is a tiny, rotund, fast-moving waxbill with a stubby, greyish bill, brown upperparts with a darker bronzy head and breast, and an iridescent green shoulder patch . The strongly contrasting underparts are white with dark bars on the flank and under the tail . Juveniles are buffy-brown with a dark bill . This species is common and widespread in Kruger, particularly in the south . It is a gregarious seed-eater, most often seen feeding in the grassy verges of wetlands, woodlands and riverine areas, and moves locally depending on the availability of seed . Cut-throat Finch L: 12 cm (4·5") A small, heavily scaled and barred brownish waxbill, males having a characteristic scarlet throat-band, which gives the species its name . It is an inconspicuous and uncommon resident in Kruger, most numerous in the northern half of the park . It pairs up for breeding and constructs its nest within the old used nests of other birds such as weavers, buffalo-weavers and woodpeckers . Outside the breeding season it often joins flocks of other seed-eaters . Waxbills: 2 green-winged pytilia female male 158 BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS female male juvenile immature adult bronze mannikin cut-throat finch 159 ...


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