Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

African Silverbill (Euodice cantans)


French: Capucin bec-d’argent German: Afrikasilberschnabel Spanish: Capuchino picoplata africano

Loxia cantans

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Dakar, Senegal


Close to E. malabarica and often treated as conspecific, but in mixed-species populations in aviaries the two tend to mate assortatively. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. c. cantans (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – C & S Mauritania and Senegambia E to Niger, N Nigeria, Chad, W Sudan and NW South Sudan; also S Algeria (origin of birds uncertain)#R.
  • E. c. orientalis (L. Lorenz von Liburnau & Hellmayr, 1901) – extreme SE Egypt (Gebel Elba), E Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, SE South Sudan, extreme NE Uganda, Kenya and N Tanzania, and S Arabian Peninsula (SW Saudi Arabia, Yemen, W Oman).
  • Introduced in Hawaiian Is.

    Descriptive notes

    11 cm; 10–14 g (nominate). Nominate race is mostly light brown above, head normally more tawny, crown scaly, upperwing duller earth-brown with variable brownish bars,... read more


    Call of male a sharp, thin loud "tseep", of female a double-noted "tsiptsip".... read more


    Savanna, subdesert steppe and villages, dry acacia (Acacia) grassland, thorn-scrub, edge... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds, mainly of grasses, also of weeds and small shrubs; few insects, e.g. aphids (Aphidoidea). Forages mostly on ground; seeds picked... read more


    Season varies regionally, mainly late rainy season, Oct–Apr in Mauritania, Nov–Jan in Senegal, Feb–May and Sept in... read more


    Resident in most of range; seasonal wandering linked with rainfall. Local migrant in Sudan, where... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Scarce to locally common in W of range; common to locally common in E. Common in S Arabia. Recorded in S Algeria, where small colony developed, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). African Silverbill (Euodice cantans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 10 December 2019).