Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Timor Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)


French: Mandarin de Timor German: Timorzebraamadine Spanish: Diamante cebra de Timor
Other common names: Sunda Zebra Finch

Fringilla guttata


, 1817,



Formerly (and by many authors still) considered conspecific with T. castanotis, and each is the other’s closest relative, but the two differ in plumage, size and songs and, when kept together in an aviary, each pairs with its own species, although isolated individuals interbreed and offspring produced are fertile (unlike hybrids between this and other estrildids). Also, the two interbreed when male plumage experimentally painted to look like the other, or when male cross-fostered and imprinted as young; mate choice affected by experience, although cross-fostered individuals usually pair with their own species. Monotypic.


Lesser Sundas from Lombok and Sumbawa E to Luang and Sermata, S to Sumba, Sawu, Dao, Roti, Semau and Timor.

Descriptive notes

10 cm; 10 g. Male has top of head and upperparts grey, rump white, uppertail-coverts black with white bars, tail blackish; ear-coverts orange to light chestnut, at loral area... read more


Loud distance call "beep", higher in pitch (loud band 2·4 kHz) than that of T... read more


Grassland with scattered shrubs and trees, grassy woodland, dry coastal grassland and cultivated... read more

Food and feeding

Grass seeds, taken mainly on the ground. Forages singly and in pairs, also in flocks of up to 100 or more individuals.


Nest-building in Nov on Timor, and eggs in Mar and Apr on Roti; monsoon rains in these areas bring new cycle of ripening grass seeds in c.... read more


Little information; evidently locally nomadic. One record from Bali.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon. Occurs throughout most of Lesser Sundas, from Lombok E to Sermata, including smaller islands of Padar and Paloe (off... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2019). Timor Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata). 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 12 December 2019).