Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Shelley's Oliveback (Nesocharis shelleyi)


French: Dos-vert à tête noire German: Meisenastrild Spanish: Olivino carinegro

Nesocharis shelleyi


, 1903,

Moka, Bioko


Has sometimes been considered conspecific with N. ansorgei. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. s. bansoensis Bannerman, 1923 – mountains of SE Nigeria (Obudu and Mambilla Plateaux, Ngel Nyaki, Gashaka Gumti) and W Cameroon (Bamenda Plateau S from Tchabal Mbabo to Mt Manengouba and Mt Kupe).
  • N. s. shelleyi Alexander, 1903 – Mt Cameroon (SW Cameroon) and Bioko.
  • Descriptive notes

    8 cm; 7–9 g. Male nominate has head and throat black, grey nape-collar, vertical white line behind ear-coverts; upperparts olive, tinged golden on rump, tail blackish;... read more


    Contact calls high-pitched, thin, sharp or squeaky, low twittering while foraging; also short... read more


    Montane forest and cocoa plantations above 1200 m, in Cameroon mostly at 1550–2100 m; 50 m... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small insects and seeds. Active from undergrowth to canopy. Gleans branches and leaves; often hangs upside-down. Forages singly, in pairs... read more


    Season Jan in Nigeria and Dec–Mar in Cameroon. In display, male holds wisp of grass in bill, and hops along branch turning body from... read more


    Resident. Possible altitudinal movements in Bioko.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Restricted-range species: present in Cameroon Mountains EBA. Locally common to uncommon; easily overlooked, so perhaps commoner than... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Shelley's Oliveback (Nesocharis shelleyi). 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 25 January 2020).