Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Red-headed Bluebill (Spermophaga ruficapilla)


French: Becbleu à tête rouge German: Rotkopf-Samenknacker Spanish: Estrilda piquigorda cabecirroja

Spermospiza ruficapilla


, 1888,

Bellima, upper Uele district, DRCongo


In the past sometimes considered conspecific with S. haematina; see remarks under that species (above). Proposed race kilgoris (described from Kilgoris, in SW Kenya) treated as a synonym of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. r. ruficapilla (Shelley, 1888) – SE Central African Republic, NE, E & S DRCongo, S South Sudan, Uganda, W & C Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, W Tanzania and N Angola.
  • S. r. cana (Friedmann, 1927) – Usambara Mts, in NE Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; 21·3-26 g (nominate). Male nominate race has head to breast and flanks red, upperparts glossy black, uppertail-coverts red, upperwing and tail black, lower breast,... read more


    Calls "pik", a nasal "tewk", and soft high "seep". Two song types, with separated rambling notes,... read more


    Forest undergrowth, damp areas in thickets, near streams, clearings and edge, also gallery forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds, including those of legumes (of genus Indigofera), morning glories (Ipomoea) and speargrass (Imperata... read more


    Season Feb–May in Angola, and Oct–Mar and May in E DRCongo (Itombwe); in Uganda most breeding records Apr–Jul and Oct... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon. Common in DRCongo, especially in NE (as far S as Itombwe); fairly common in S Sudan, and generally common in Uganda; in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2018). Red-headed Bluebill (Spermophaga ruficapilla). 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 22 March 2018).