Cuckoo finch

Anomalospiza imberbis subfamily

Viduinae taxonomy

Crithagra imberbis Cabanis, 1868, East Africa = Zanzibar. other common names

English: Parasitic weaver; French: Anomalospize parasite; German: Kuckucksfink; Spanish: Tejedor Parásito.

physical characteristics

5.1 in (13 cm); unsexed birds 0.8-0.9 oz (23-26 g). Breeding male, yellow with some streaking, bill black. Non-breeding male, yellowish head, upperparts olive with heavy streaks, bill brown. Female mainly buffy, heavily streaked on upperparts. Short-tailed, with a stubby bill, deep at base. Juvenile resembles female.


Local in western and central Africa, through eastern Africa to southern Africa.


Open grassland with scattered trees, wetlands, cultivated lands. behavior

Little-known and probably nomadic; likely to be overlooked in mixed flocks of seedeaters. When breeding, in pairs or small groups. Male has rasping song in display, defends grassland territory. Non-breeding birds form large roosts in reedbeds, sometimes holding more than 500 birds.

feeding ecology and diet

Seeds, mostly collected while perching on grasses and weeds.

reproductive biology

Brood parasite, mating system not known, but probably polyg-ynous. Lays one to two eggs per nest, removing one or more host eggs. Incubation 14 days, fledging 18 days. Hosts are warblers of the genera Cisticola or Prinia, host young usually trampled in nest, rarely reared with parasite young. Two cuckoo finch young may be reared together.

conservation status

Wide range and not considered threatened.

significance to humans None known. ♦

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