Family Whydahs and Indigobirds (Viduidae)

Least Concern

Cuckoo-finch (Anomalospiza imberbis)


French: Anomalospize parasite German: Kuckuckswitwe Spanish: Viuda anómala
Other common names: Parasitic Weaver

Crithagra imberbis


, 1868,

“East Africa“= Zanzibar


Races intergrade and poorly defined, with no constant distinction in size and plumage, and species sometimes treated as monotypic; also, individual variation in size apparent. Proposed race tibatiensis (described from W Africa) subsumed into butleri, and macmillani (from Ethiopia), makandakunae (W Zambia) and nyasae (Malawi) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. i. butleri W. L. Sclater & Mackworth-Praed, 1918 – Gambia (rare), S Mali (inner R Niger Delta), Sierra Leone and Liberia E patchily to Nigeria and Cameroon; South Sudan and NE DRCongo (Uele).
  • A. i. imberbis (Cabanis, 1868) – patchily in Ethiopia, E Africa, S DRCongo (Kasai, Katanga) and N & SE Angola S to N & E South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 18–21g (Kenya), 20–22·5 g (Transvaal). Small, stocky finch with short tail and short, stubby bill with upper mandible laterally compressed... read more


    Male song, from perch in bush or tree, a high, chirping "choop-ee-choo" or "dzi-bee-chew" or a thin... read more


    Open grassland and savanna, damp meadows with high grasses, grassy riverine floodplains, shrubland... read more

    Food and feeding

    Grass seeds and other soft seeds, also hard seeds of sedges (Scirpus) and sunflowers (Helianthus). Rarely, insects. Takes... read more


    Breeds in rains, along with host species: lays in Aug and Nov in Ethiopia (W highlands); in E Africa, Feb–Jun in areas N & E of L... read more


    Not well known. In most of range resident, or a seasonal wanderer moving with rains to regions with... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread, but uncommon and local. Patchy distribution prevents any reasonably accurate population estimates; total of 250 individuals in Kruger... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Cuckoo-finch (Anomalospiza imberbis). 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 May 2019).