Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Green-winged Pytilia (Pytilia melba)


French: Beaumarquet melba German: Buntastrild Spanish: Estrilda melba
Other common names: Melba Finch

Fringilla Melba


, 1758,

China; error = Luanda, Angola


Has been suggested that red-lored citerior and grey-lored percivali represent two different species, but red-lored and grey-lored males intergrade across E Africa, and many intermediates occur. Race soudanensis intergrades with citerior in South Sudan, with jessei in Djibouti and with grotei in NE Tanzania. Proposed race clanceyi (described from Bahr el Ghazal, in South Sudan) treated as synonym of citerior; damarensis (from Windhoek, in W Namibia) and thamnophila (from Big Bend, on R Great Usutu, in E Swaziland) synonymized with nominate. A population in Djibouti with much yellow in plumage named as race flavicaudata (but no museum specimen), and apparently identical birds occur in N South Africa (Northern Cape Province), both possibly variants or additional races; a yellowish bird from Northern Cape appears to be a leucistic individual of nominate race, having mitochondrial sequence identical to that of others of this species in the region; further study required. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. citerior Strickland, 1853 – S Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and N Ivory Coast E to N Nigeria, Chad, W South Sudan, S Sudan and W Ethiopia.
  • P. m. jessei Shelley, 1903 – NE Sudan, Eritrea, NE Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.
  • P. m. soudanensis (Sharpe, 1890) – SE South Sudan, C & S Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, and N & E Kenya S to N Tanzania.
  • P. m. belli Ogilvie-Grant, 1907 – W Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, E DRCongo (Kivu) and W Tanzania.
  • P. m. percivali van Someren, 1919 – C & SW Kenya and N & C Tanzania.
  • P. m. hygrophila Irwin & Benson, 1967 – NE Zambia and N Malawi.
  • P. m. grotei Reichenow, 1919 – NE Tanzania S to C Mozambique (lower R Zambezi) and S Malawi.
  • P. m. melba (Linnaeus, 1758) – S Congo, W & SE DRCongo, Angola, Zambia (except NE) and SW Tanzania S to C Namibia, S Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Mozambique, N South Africa and E Swaziland.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; 12·8-18·4 g. Male nominate race has forehead, cheek, chin and throat red, lores and rest of head grey; upperparts and upperwing yellowish-green... read more


    Contact call a downslurred "tseeoo", alarm call "wik"; other calls "tsit-tsit" or "spit spit". Song... read more


    Acacia (Acacia) thorn savanna and thickets, dry savanna woodland, edge of riparian forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds, also termites (Isoptera) and pseudoscorpions (Pseudoscorpiones). In N South Africa exploits the grasses Panicum... read more


    Breeds in nearly all months, mainly Sept–Feb, in Senegal; in Aug, Sept and Mar in Nigeria and May and Jun in Ethiopia; breeds with... read more


    Resident; some local seasonal movements, as indicated by changes in numbers in NE Nigeria and in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally common. Mostly uncommon in NW of range (W of Nigeria), and uncommon in extreme NE; scarce to uncommon and local in much of E... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Green-winged Pytilia (Pytilia melba). 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 12 December 2019).