African quailfinch

Ortygospiza atricollis

SUBFAMILY

Estrildinae

TAXONOMY

Fringilla atricollis Vieillot, 1817. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Quailfinch, ground finch, partridge finch; French: Astrild-caille a lunettes; German: Wachtelastrild; Spanish: Astrilda Aperdizada.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

3.7-3.9 in (9.5-10 cm). A short tail and lark-like legs are indicative of this species' terrestrial nature. Sexes slightly differ; males have a black face and brown breast. Females are lighter in these areas. Juveniles similar to the female but have fainter barring and a darker bill.

DISTRIBUTION

Senegal east to western Cameroon. Southern Sudan to Angola and south to South Africa.

HABITAT

Found in open areas with patchy grass growth, often near water, including sandy grassland, marsh, farms and croplands, and recently mowed areas.

BEHAVIOR

This shy species spends almost all of its time on the ground in pairs or small flocks, being seen only when flushed, one of the few reasons it ever takes flight. The call is a metallic "trillink" or "chwillink" while the song is a series of "click, clack, cluck" notes delivered rapidly and repeatedly.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on small grass seeds and on occasional spiders or insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

A dome-shaped nest of grass stems and blades is built on the ground. Four to six white eggs are incubated by both parents.

CONSERVATION STATUS

CITES: Appendix III. Not considered threatened by the IUCN. SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Has appeared in aviculture in very low numbers in the past, but is not a popular aviary subject, probably due to its shy and flighty disposition. ♦

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