Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Orange-cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda)


French: Astrild à joues orange German: Orangewangenastrild Spanish: Estrilda carinaranja

Fringilla melpoda


, 1817,



Birds from Andali (N Adamawa), in E Nigeria, described as race tschadensis and others from Lulua Province, in S DRCongo, as fucata, but neither differs significantly from birds in rest of species’ range. Treated as monotypic.


S Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, S Mali, Sierra Leone and Liberia E to Nigeria, Cameroon, S Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon S to N Angola, and DRCongo, W Uganda#R, W Burundi, and N Zambia. Introduced in Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe and Martinique), in Hawaiian Is, in Japan and in Spain.

Descriptive notes

10 cm; 6·5-9·6 g. Male has orange face patch from lores to superciliary area and ear-coverts; forehead to nape grey, merging with brown on mantle and back; rump and uppertail... read more


Calls weak and lispy, or squeaky, nasal and strident, “zee”, a testy “chi-dee-chi”. Song a variable... read more


Grassland, forest clearings, grassy road edges in forest, shrubby grassy woodland, edge of small... read more

Food and feeding

Small grass seeds, small arthropods. In Nigeria, adults feed themselves and their young with small seeds of the grasses Panicum,... read more


Breeds during rains, in Sept and Oct in Gambia, Jul–Aug in Sierra Leone, Apr–Oct (peak in Jul) in SW Nigeria (Ile-Ife), Feb in... read more


Resident; some wandering and local shifts with rains.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to abundant in most of range. Uncommon to rare at S edges of range, e.g. rare in NW Burundi and restricted to shores of L... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2019). Orange-cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda). 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 6 December 2019).