Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Black-bellied Firefinch (Lagonosticta rara)


French: Amarante à ventre noir German: Schwarzbauchamarant Spanish: Amaranta ventrinegra

Habropyga rara


, 1864,

between White Nile and Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan


Recent phylogenetic analysis#R indicated that this species may be sister to L. larvata; further study needed. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. r. forbesi Neumann, 1908 – SE Senegal, SW Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and N Sierra Leone E to Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
  • L. r. rara (Antinori, 1864) – Cameroon E to South Sudan, NE DRCongo, Uganda and extreme W Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; 10 g. Male nominate race has head and upperparts to uppertail-coverts red, red fringes to lesser and median upperwing-coverts, flight-feathers brown, tail... read more


    Contact call a loud nasal "keeyh" or "mew", sometimes in series and calls then increasing in... read more


    Grassy N guinean savanna, base of rocks with water seepage, grass and thickets, common around... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds; small ants (Formicidae) and termites (Isoptera). Feeds on the ground. Forages in pairs and in small groups, often... read more


    Recorded in Oct–Nov in Mali, May–Sept in Ghana, Jul–Nov in Nigeria, Oct in Cameroon and Sept–Nov in DRCongo. Male... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in much of range; rare in Senegal and N Liberia, and rather uncommon in E of range.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Black-bellied Firefinch (Lagonosticta rara). 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 6 December 2019).