Skip to main content
Select Source:

Waxbills

Waxbills

Waxbills or weaverfinches are 129 species of finchlike birds that make up the family Estrildidae. Species of waxbills occur in the tropics of Africa, south and Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, and many islands of the South Pacific. Their usual habitats are grasslands, marshes, savannas, forest edges, and disturbed forests. Waxbills are sedentary, nonmigratory birds.

Waxbills are small birds, ranging in body length from 3.2-5.9 in (8-15 cm). The bill is short, stout, conical-shaped, and pointed, and adapted to eating seeds. The plumage of male birds is generally brightly colored, with contrasting patterns that can include hues of red, blue, purple, green, yellow, black, or white. Female birds have a much more inconspicuous coloration.

Waxbills forage on the ground for seeds, fruits, and small invertebrates. Species that occur in open, seasonally dry habitats are gregarious during the drier times of the year, while species occurring in more closed moist habitats defend their territories throughout the year.

All waxbills are territorial during their breeding season, which for many species typically begins immediately after the seasonal rains begin. Their songs are weak hisses, buzzes, and chatterings. Waxbills construct bulky, domed nests of grassy fibers, often lined with feathers on the inside. They lay four to 10 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, who also share duties in caring for the young.

Several species of waxbills have been domesticated, and are kept in captivity as cage birds. These include the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata ) of Australia, the striated finch or white-rumped munia (Lonchura striata ) of south and Southeast Asia, and the Java finch (Padda oryzivora ), native to Java and Bali in Indonesia, but widely introduced elsewhere in Indochina and Southeast Asia.

The Gouldian or rainbow finch (Chloebia gouldiae ) is a particularly gaudy bird of northern Australia, which has a yellow bill, black face, purple breast, yellow belly, and green back. The white-crowned mannikin (Lonchura nevermanni ) is a white-headed, two-toned brown-bodied species that lives within grassy savannas in southern New Guinea. The red-headed parrot finch (Erythrura cyaneovirens ) has a red head, blue breast, green belly and back, and burgundy tail. The orange-eyed pytilia or red-faced waxbill (Pytilia afra ) is a red-faced, gray-bodied species of East Africa.

Some species of waxbills are regarded as serious pests of agriculture. For example, the Java finch is a pest in parts of Southeast Asia, because of the quantities of ripened rice that these birds consume.

See also Finches.

Bill Freedman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Waxbills." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Waxbills." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/waxbills-0

"Waxbills." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/waxbills-0

Estrildidae

Estrildidae (waxbills, mannikins, munias, silverbills; class Aves, order Passeriformes) A varied family of small, brightly coloured finches that have rounded wings, medium to short tails, small to large, short, conical bills, and strong feet. They are gregarious, inhabit forests, grassland, and desert, feed on seeds and insects, and build an enclosed nest with a side entrance, usually in trees. Nestlings have decorated palates and tongues. Lonchura striata (Bengalese finch), commonly kept in captivity, is bred in a variety of plumages. Amandava amandava (red munia) is the only estrildid with a dull non-breeding plumage. There are 27 genera, with 138 species, most of which are popular cage birds, found in Africa, southern Asia, Australasia, and Pacific Ocean islands.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Estrildidae." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Estrildidae." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/estrildidae

"Estrildidae." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/estrildidae