Formerly was sometimes treated as conspecific with E. orix, but this not supported by molecular data. Has hybridized in captivity with E. afer and possibly with E. hordeaceus. Birds in E of range sometimes recognized as race pusillus (described from L Chew Bahir, in S Ethiopia), often having longer tail-coverts covering rectrices completely, less red on breast, and plumage tending towards orange-red, rather than scarlet; plumage and other characters, however, variable throughout species’ range, and naming of geographical races considered unwarranted. Monotypic.
S Mauritania, Senegambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, S Mali, N Sierra Leone, N Liberia, Burkina Faso, N Ivory Coast, Ghana (mainly inland, local on coast), Togo, Benin, SW Niger, Nigeria (primarily N of the great rivers), S Chad, N Cameroon, N Central African Republic, Sudan (especially R Nile and tributaries), South Sudan, W & NE Ethiopia, W Eritrea and NW & S Somalia, S to NE DRCongo, N Uganda and W Kenya (L Baringo and L Bogoria). Introduced (escaped cagebirds) in SW USA (near Los Angeles, in California; breeding reported also Arizona); introduced c. 1960 in West Indies on Puerto Rico, with breeding on Martinique and Guadeloupe, and recorded on Cuba, Jamaica and St Croix (Virgin Is). Reported introduction in Japan of E. orix more likely to be referable to present species.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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