Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Black-bellied Seedcracker (Pyrenestes ostrinus)


French: Pyréneste ponceau German: Purpurastrild Spanish: Estrilda piquigorda ventrinegra

Loxia ostrina


, 1805,

India and Africa = southern Gabon coast


In the past considered conspecific with P. sanguineus and P. minor. Several races have been proposed, on basis of differences mainly in general size and in bill size and shape, e.g. relatively small rothschildi (described from Niger Delta, in Nigeria), larger and larger-billed frommi (from Kitungulu, in SW Tanzania), and still larger and huge-billed maximus (from Faradje, in NE DRCongo); individuals of each type, however, can be found together in some geographical areas, and they interbreed (pairing behaviour independent of bill-size morph); in addition, intermediates occur, and nestlings of pairs of each size morph are identical in mouth colour and pattern. Treated as monotypic.


SE Ivory Coast#R, Ghana, Togo, Benin#R, Nigeria and W & S Cameroon E to Central African Republic, SW Chad, S South Sudan, Uganda and extreme W Kenya, S to N Angola, Zambia and SW Tanzania.

Descriptive notes

c. 15 cm; male in Cameroon 18·6 g (small morph), 20·9 g (large morph), 29 g (huge morph). Male has head and neck to breast and flanks crimson-red, upperparts, including... read more


Calls include low "peenk", alarm call "terr". Male has up to seven song themes... read more


Watercourses in rainforest and closed woodland, edge of moist evergreen and riparian forest, palm... read more

Food and feeding

Seeds, especially those of sedge, sometimes soft white seeds, others hard-shelled; occasionally bits of green leaves, berries, small... read more


Season Aug–Nov (mainly Sept–Oct) and Apr–May, during major and minor rains, in Cameroon; in DRCongo during rains, Dec... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Considered generally uncommon to locally common. Several reports from Ivory Coast, and single report (of two individuals) from Benin, but status in... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2018). Black-bellied Seedcracker (Pyrenestes ostrinus). 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 23 March 2018).