Family Whydahs and Indigobirds (Viduidae)

Least Concern

Purple Indigobird (Vidua purpurascens)


French: Combassou violacé German: Purpurwitwe Spanish: Viuda purpúrea

Hypochera purpurascens


, 1883,

Useguha, east Tanzania


Formerly considered a race of V. chalybeata, and sometimes treated as conspecific with V. funerea; possibly interbreeds with former in NE Tanzania. Monotypic.


Kenya, N & E Tanzania, SE DRCongo, SW Angola, S & E Zambia, Malawi, W Mozambique, N Namibia, N & E Botswana, Zimbabwe, and N South Africa (NE North West Province, Limpopo and Mpumalanga lowveld); recent single record from S Ethiopia#R.

Descriptive notes

10–11 cm; 11·5-15·5 g. Male breeding is black with purplish or bluish-purple gloss (gloss dull, even when plumage fresh), concealed white flank spot; tail dark brown,... read more


Chattering and churring songs like those of other indigobird species, mixed with imitations of... read more


Grassy, brushy woodlands, thornbush and riverine habitats. Roosts in dense leafy trees in mixed-... read more

Food and feeding

Small grass seeds, taken from ground. In Zambia, takes seeds of annual grasses Echinochloa colonum, Setaria, ... read more


Season (based mainly on oviduct eggs) Jun in Kenya, Feb–May (some males in breeding plumage into Jul) in Zambia, Apr in Botswana, Jan... read more


Resident. Perhaps locally nomadic in non-breeding season.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally fairly common. Often confused with V. funerea in earlier literature. Ringed female active within area of 10 km2. In 1973–1976... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2020). Purple Indigobird (Vidua purpurascens). 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 24 January 2020).