Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Brown Firefinch (Lagonosticta nitidula)


French: Amarante nitidule German: Braunbürzelamarant Spanish: Amaranta parda

Lagonosticta nitidula


, 1886,

Mpala, Lake Tanganyika, DRCongo


In the past sometimes considered conspecific with L. rufopicta. Proposed race plumbaria (described from Sepupa, in NW Botswana) on average somewhat greyer than birds elsewhere in species’ range, but no constant differences. Monotypic.


Angola, SE DRCongo, SW Tanzania, Zambia, NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip), N Botswana and extreme NW Zimbabwe.

Descriptive notes

9–10 cm; 10–11 g. Male has upperparts brown to grey-brown, crown, nape, rump and uppertail-coverts greyer, flight-feathers darker brown, tail darker greyish-brown... read more


Most calls similar to those of L. rufopicta, contact call 1–2 short "kewp" notes;... read more


Reedbeds (Phragmites), papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), tall grass and thickets along... read more

Food and feeding

Small grass seeds, also small insects. Feeds on the ground; favours damp earth, where it scatters surface food with bill. Forages usually... read more


Recorded in all months, mainly Feb–Jun and Sept–Oct, in Zambia, and in Oct–Apr (most records Jan–Apr) in Zimbabwe.... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common; often local. Locally common in marshes along R Zambezi.

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2018). Brown Firefinch (Lagonosticta nitidula). 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).