African silverbill

Lonchura cantans

SUBFAMILY

Lonchurinae

TAXONOMY

Loxia cantans Gmelin, 1789. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Warbling silverbill, black-rumped silverbill, silverbill; French: Capucin bec-d'argent; German: Silberschnabelchen; Spanish: Monjita Pico-de-plata.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

3.9-4.5 in (10-11.5 cm). Sexes indistinguishable; brown, belly white, rump and tail black. Juveniles have slightly paler under-parts.

DISTRIBUTION

Southern Mauritania, east to Eritrea, south to northeastern Tanzania. Two Asian populations, one in southern Saudi Arabia and western Yemen, and one in southern Oman. Introduced populations are established in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

HABITAT

Can be found in dry savanna, thorn scrub, acacia woodland, semi-desert, and inhabited or cultivated areas, usually near a water source.

BEHAVIOR

This highly social species can be found in large, often dense, flocks. The call note is a sharp "cheep" or "tseep" while the

song is a series of rising and falling trills for which it is sometimes called the warbling silverbill.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on grass seeds picked from the growing plant or off the ground. Although it has been reported to eat aphids, insects are not a major part of its diet. This has been supported by captive birds, which rear their young solely on vegetable matter.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Uses old weaver nests or sometimes builds a round nest of grass where three to six white eggs are incubated for 11-13 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

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

Often found near human settlements, sometimes nesting in the eaves of houses. This species is commonly found in aviculture. ♦

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