Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)


French: Amarante du Sénégal German: Senegalamarant Spanish: Amaranta senegalesa

Fringilla Senegala


, 1766,



Race brunneiceps intergrades with somaliensis and ruberrima in S Somalia and N Kenya. Proposed races guineensis (described from N’Zerekore, in SE Guinea) is synonymized with nominate, kikuyuensis (from Nairobi, in Kenya) is treated as synonym of ruberrima, and pallidicrissa (from Humpata, in Angola) and confidens (from near Bloemfontein, in Free State, in South Africa) are synonymized with rendalli. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. s. senegala (Linnaeus, 1766) – S Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and N Liberia E to Nigeria (except E); also mesic oases in N Niger.
  • L. s. rhodopsis (Heuglin, 1863) – E Nigeria, S Chad, N Cameroon, N Central African Republic, W Sudan, N & W South Sudan, and lowlands of W Eritrea and W Ethiopia.
  • L. s. brunneiceps Sharpe, 1890 – E Sudan N down R Nile, SE South Sudan, Eritrea and C & E Ethiopia above 1000 m and N Kenya.
  • L. s. somaliensis Salvadori, 1894 – SE Ethiopia and Somalia.
  • L. s. ruberrima Reichenow, 1903 – E & SE DRCongo, Uganda and Kenya S to NE Angola, NE Zambia and N Malawi.
  • L. s. rendalli E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – S Angola, S & E Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique S to N Namibia, N & E Botswana, Zimbabwe, much of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho#R.
  • Introduced in Algeria#R.

    Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 7–12 g. Male nominate race has head to breast red, some brown on crown and nape, small white spots on side of breast; upperparts red-washed brown, rump... read more


    Contact call a fluty whistle, "pea", often rising in pitch; alarm call a sharp "... read more


    Open grassy woodland with acacia (Acacia) thornbush, thicket clumps near open ground,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds (diameter 1–2 mm), notably of the annuals Echinochloa and Setaria, and in Ethiopia cultivated tef... read more


    Season Jul–Apr (mainly Oct–Dec) in Senegal, all year except height of dry season (mainly May–Oct) in Nigeria, Mar–... read more


    Resident, with local movements. Local disappearance at time of lowered body fat in late dry season... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of range, and locally abundant; uncommon in NW & S Somalia, and rare in N Liberia. In Lochinvar National Park, in Zambia, density... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala). 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 21 February 2020).