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Lagonosticta senegala (Red-billed firefinch) 

Rooibekvuurvinkie [Afrikaans]; Borane (also aplied to other waxbills and firefinches) [South Sotho]; Xidzingirhi (generic term for firefinches and waxbills; also applied to Ground woodpecker [check]) [Tsonga]; Vuurvinkje [Dutch]; Amarante du Sénégal [French]; Senegal-amarant, Amarant [German]; Peito-de-fogo-de-bico-vermelho [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Estrildidae

Lagonosticta senegala (Red-billed firefinch)  Lagonosticta senegala (Red-billed firefinch) 
Red-billed firefinch male. [photo Martin Goodey ©] Red-billed firefinch female, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the Lowland forest in and around the DRC, from Senegal to Somalia south to southern Africa. Here it is common from Zimbabwe and Mozambique west to northern Botswana and Namibia and south to north-eastern and northern South Africa, while more scarce in the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape. It generally prefers rank grass and thickets with patches of bare soil, especially in moist woodland and Acacia savanna, also occupying cultivated fields and thickets near water.

Distribution of Red-billed firefinch in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of chameleons and snakes, as well as being a host of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma everetti.


It mainly eats grass seeds taken from the ground, supplemented with insects, often joining mixed-species foraging flocks along with other seedeaters. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Grass seeds
    • Echinochloa colona (Jungle rice)
    • Setaria (bristle grasses)
    • Urochloa (signal grasses)
    • Panicum (Guinea grasses)
    • Chloris
    • Digitaria (finger grasses)
    • Eleusine (goose grasses)
  • Arthropods


  • The nest is built solely by the male, consisting of a ball-shaped structure with a side entrance, made of dry grass blades with an inner shell of grass inflorescences, lined with feathers. It is typically placed in plant debris beneath a tree or bush, alternatively in a thatch roof, hedge or hole in a wall.
  • Egg-laying season is almost year-round, peaking from December-June.
  • It lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 11-12 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 17-20 days and becoming fully independent approximately 2-4 weeks later.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.