Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Bronze Mannikin (Spermestes cucullata)


French: Capucin nonnette German: Kleinelsterchen Spanish: Capuchino bronceado

Spermestes cucullata


, 1837,



Races intergrade in NE DRCongo and Uganda. Proposed race tessellata, described from Nampini (middle R Zambezi Valley), in NW Zimbabwe, is synonymized with scutata. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. c. cucullata Swainson, 1837 – Senegambia, S Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia E to Nigeria, S Chad, Central African Republic and South Sudan, S to Gabon, Congo, and W Kenya (W of Rift Valley); also Bioko, Príncipe, São Tomé and Annobón, in Gulf of Guinea.
  • S. c. scutata Heuglin, 1863 – Ethiopia and Kenya (E of Rift Valley) S to S DRCongo, Angola, Namibia (Caprivi Strip), N & E Botswana, Mozambique and NE & SE South Africa; also islands off Tanzania (Pemba, Zanzibar and Mafia), and Comoro Is.
  • Introduced in Puerto Rico and Hawaiian Is.

    Descriptive notes

    9 cm; 7·7-11·8 g. Nominate race has head and upper breast brownish black, browner on hindneck and neck-side, with variable amounts of greenish gloss on cap and... read more


    Contact and flight calls a wheezy “tsek” or “chik-chik”, twittering in... read more


    Grassy open woodland and grassy semi-arid scrub; areas with seeding grasses, including cultivations... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small seeds of annual grasses, including Echinochloa, Urochloa, Setaria, Eleusine, Digitaria... read more


    Season prolonged, Jan–Sept (mainly beginning with Mar rains) in Ghana, Aug–Oct in Ethiopia, mainly Apr, May, Oct and Nov in... read more


    Resident. Some local movements in response to rains and seeding of grasses; longest distance of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to abundant and widespread throughout most of range; one of the commonest avian species in Africa. Estimated population in S... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Bronze Mannikin (Spermestes cucullata). 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 7 December 2019).