Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Waxbill (Estrilda atricapilla)


French: Astrild à tête noire German: Kappenastrild Spanish: Estrilda capirotada

Estrelda atricapilla

J. P. Verreaux and J. B. É. Verreaux

, 1851,



Sometimes placed with E. kandti and E. nonnula in a separate genus, Krimhilda. Formerly considered conspecific with E. kandti, race keniensis of which may belong with present species; see remarks under E. kandti (below). Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. a. atricapilla J. P. Verreaux & J. B. É. Verreaux, 1851 – S Cameroon S to Congo, E to NC DRCongo.
  • E. a. avakubi Traylor, 1964 – NW & NE Angola (Cabinda, N Lunda Norte) and SW & C DRCongo.
  • E. a. marungensis Prigogine, 1975 – Marungu Mts, in SE DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–10·5 cm; one bird 7–8 g (nominate). Male nominate race has forehead, crown and nape down to lores and eye black; upperparts, including upperwing-coverts,... read more


    High thin "psee" and "tsree" calls, and short "psit"; similar to... read more


    Forest clearings with tall grasses and sedges (Cyperaceae), and grassy patches around villages and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds, ants (Formicidae), winged termites (Isoptera). Takes growing seeds while it clings to stems of tall grass; picks fallen... read more


    Nests in Sept, Nov–Feb, Apr and Jun in Gabon and Jun and Oct in NE DRCongo (Avakubi). In courtship, male holds a piece of grass in... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common, and locally abundant; uncommon in Angola. Density of 4–8 birds/ha recorded in Gabon.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2018). Black-headed Waxbill (Estrilda atricapilla). 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 25 March 2018).