Friday, 12 April 2013

Brown firefinch

Lagonosticta nitidula

(Photo from Bird Forum)

Common name:
brown firefinch (en); peito-de-fogo-castanho (pt); amarante nitidule (fr); pinzón candela castaño (es); braunbürzelamarant (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae

This species is found from D.R. Congo and Tanzania, through Angola and Zambia, and into Botswana and northern Namibia.

These birds are 10-11 cm long and weigh 10-11 g.

The brown firefinch is found in reedbeds, papyrus, tall grasses and thickets along watercourses, swamps and marshes, occasionally moving into adjacent thorny scrublands and riparian woodlands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m.

They forage on bare ground, mainly eating grass seeds, such as jungle rice Echinochloa colonum, teff grass Eragrostis tef, bur bristle grass Setaria verticillata, golden bristle grass Setaria sphacelata and Natal red top Melinis repens. They also eat termites, small ants and mealworms.

Brown firefinches breed in October-April. The nest is a grass ball with a side entrance, lined with feathers and placed low in a scrub or thatch roof of a building. They may also use abandoned nests of weavers and sunbirds. The female lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 15-19 days after hatching.

IUCN status -LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be locally common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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