Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)


French: Astrild ondulé German: Wellenastrild Spanish: Estrilda común

Loxia Astrild


, 1758,

“Canaries, America, Africa“= Cape Town, South Africa


Often treated as conspecific with E. nigriloris, which see. Other proposed races include sousae (from São Tomé, where introduced), synonymized with jagoensis; schoutedeni (from Mbuji-Mayi, capital of Kasai-Oriental, in SC DRCongo), with cavendishi; and ngamiensis (from Shorobe, in NW Botswana), with niediecki. Race adesma sometimes listed as nyansae, but under ICZN Code this name permanently invalid (having been replaced owing to secondary homonymy prior to 1961)#R. Fifteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. a. kempi Bates, 1930 – W & SE Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  • E. a. occidentalis Jardine & Fraser, 1852 – #RS Mali, Ivory Coast, NW Ghana, Bioko, and C & E Nigeria E to N DRCongo.
  • E. a. macmillani Ogilvie-Grant, 1907 – South Sudan and W Ethiopia (R Baro).
  • E. a. peasei Shelley, 1903 – Ethiopia.
  • E. a. rubriventris (Vieillot, 1823) – coastal Gabon S to NW Angola (Cabinda).
  • E. a. adesma Reichenow, 1916 – E DRCongo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, W Kenya and NW Tanzania.
  • E. a. massaica Neumann, 1907 – C Kenya S to N Tanzania.
  • E. a. minor (Cabanis, 1878) – S Somalia, E Kenya, NE Tanzania, and Zanzibar I.
  • E. a. cavendishi Sharpe, 1900 – SE DRCongo (except L Upemba area) and S Tanzania S to E Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
  • E. a. jagoensis Alexander, 1898 – coastal W Angola (Bengo S to Namibe).
  • E. a. angolensis Reichenow, 1902 – W Angola (except coast).
  • E. a. niediecki Reichenow, 1916 – C Angola E to W Zambia, N Botswana and W Zimbabwe.
  • E. a. damarensis Reichenow, 1902 – Namibia.
  • E. a. astrild (Linnaeus, 1758) – SE Botswana, and W & S South Africa (North West Province S to Western Cape and Free State).
  • E. a. tenebridorsa Clancey, 1957 – N & E South Africa (Limpopo S to Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) and W Swaziland.
  • Introduced (mainly nominate race and jagoensis) in many parts of world, including in Europe (Portugal, Spain), West Indies (Puerto Rico)#R and South America (Brazil#R, Trinidad#R) and on islands in Atlantic (Bermuda#R, Canaries#R, Cape Verde, Ascension, St Helena), in Gulf of Guinea (São Tomé and Príncipe), in Indian Ocean (Seychelles Is, Amirantes Is, Juan de Nova I, Mauritius, Reunion, Rodrigues, Amsterdam, perhaps Madagascar)#R, in Pacific Ocean (New Caledonia, Vanuatu#R, Tahiti, Hawaii) and Taiwan#R.

    Descriptive notes

    9·5–13 cm; 6–11 g. Male nominate race has red stripe from lores back to above ear-coverts; top of head and upper­parts pale greyish-brown, finely... read more


    Contact call a sharp “jip”; distance contact call or song 2–3 sharp notes... read more


    Tall grass, grassy fields, swamps and marshes, sedge (Cyperaceae) marshes, grassy edges of streams... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds, also seeds of sedges and of herbs, including stinging nettles (Laportea); also small insects, including ants (... read more


    Breeds at any time of year in Gabon, in Sept–Nov and Mar on Bioko, and May, Jun and Aug–Sept in Ethiopia; in E Africa in second... read more


    Resident, with some local movements. Nomadic movements reported in E Africa; in South Africa, near... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Race nigriloris, when treated as a separate species, Data Deficient; also a restricted-range taxon, present in Upemba Plains... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R., Bonan, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild). 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 22 February 2019).