Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Magpie Mannikin (Spermestes fringilloides)


French: Capucin pie German: Riesenelsterchen Spanish: Capuchino pío

Plocus [sic] fringilloides


, 1835,

India; error = Liberia


Birds from Dondo Forest, in S Mozambique, described as race pica, but appear to differ little from those elsewhere in species’ range. Monotypic.


Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia E, very patchily, to Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, South Sudan and W Ethiopia, S to Gabon, N & SW Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, S Mozambique and E South Africa.

Descriptive notes

12 cm; 13–18·9 g. Head to throat and hindneck are black, rump black, rest of upperparts, including upperwing dark brown, scapulars with fine white shaft streaks, tail... read more


Contact call a loud "pyoo-wee" or "pyoo-wee-yoo", the whistled downslurs longer... read more


Riparian forest, grassy bush country along rivers and streams and bases of rocky outcroppings, rank... read more

Food and feeding

Rice, other grass seeds, including Panicum and cereal grains, large seeds of bamboo (seeds 12–16 mm long, 2–2·5 mm in... read more


Season Jun in Ghana, Jul–Sept in Cameroon, Feb–Mar in Zambia, Aug, Oct and Jan–May in Malawi and Oct–Mar in... read more


Resident; irregular movements where associated with bamboo.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally uncommon to rare; very patchily distributed. Local populations appear to be small. Few recent records in Ethiopia, Kenya and N Tanzania, and... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2019). Magpie Mannikin (Spermestes fringilloides). 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 11 December 2019).