Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Fawn-breasted Waxbill (Estrilda paludicola)


French: Astrild à poitrine fauve German: Sumpfastrild Spanish: Estrilda pechiparda

Estrelda paludicola


, 1863,

middle course of Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan


Race ochrogaster sometimes considered a separate species, differing from nominate in its ochreish-yellow vs whitish-grey ear-coverts (2); much yellower underparts from throat to lower belly (2); more olive, less grey flanks (ns[1]); less pronounced grey crown (1); longer tail (effect size in males 1.25, score 1); and slightly lower-pitched voice (1)#R; this score of 7 suggests species status vs nominate but characters not all so distinctive against other taxa, voices of which are poorly known. Nevertheless, plumage differences between the four groups involved fairly high, so races benguellensis and ruthae may form another species and roseicrissa and marwitzi a third. In recent analysis of mitochondrial phylogeny, nominate race, ochrogaster and roseicrissa comprised a clade that included also E. melpoda, which is sympatric with present species and is clearly a distinct species; benguellensis and ruthae comprised another, multi-species clade, with closest relatives nominate race, ochrogaster and roseicrissa and also E. melpoda, E. troglodytes, E. rhodopyga and E. rufibarba. Further study required. Six subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. p. ruthae Chapin, 1950 – S Gabon, S Congo, and SW DRCongo (along middle R Congo near Kinshasa).
  • E. p. benguellensis Neumann, 1908 – Benguella Waxbill – Angola, S DRCongo (Upper Katanga district) and Zambia.
  • E. p. paludicola Heuglin, 1863 – Fawn-breasted Waxbill – S Sudan, E Central African Republic, W & S South Sudan, N DRCongo (E to Ituri), N Uganda and W Kenya.
  • E. p. roseicrissa Reichenow, 1892 – Rosy-flanked Waxbill – E DRCongo S of L Edward, SW Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and NW Tanzania.
  • E. p. marwitzi Reichenow, 1900 – SC Tanzania.
  • E. p. ochrogaster Salvadori, 1897 – Abyssinian Waxbill – W Ethiopia and adjacent SE South Sudan.
  • Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 6·6-8·5 g (nominate). Male nominate race has head grey, lighter grey on lores, cheek and ear-coverts, upperparts and upperwing brown, rump and uppertail-... read more


    Contact calls chattering, "wilit" (benguellensis) or "tjip", "jzi... read more


    Tall grass, open damp grassy areas in woodland, along streams and rivers, grassy clearings in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small seeds of grasses; also some insects. Seeds taken from stem and from the ground. Forages in pairs and in small groups, also in larger... read more


    Breeds in rains, in Jul–Aug in Sudan, mainly Feb–May in Uganda, and Nov–Feb and Apr in Zambia. Courtship behaviour not... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common in most of range. The commonest waxbill in NE DRCongo from Buta E to L Albert. Uncommon and local in Kenya.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Fawn-breasted Waxbill (Estrilda paludicola). 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 27 January 2020).