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Petronia superciliaris (Yellow-throated petronia, Yellow-throated sparrow) 

Geelvlekmossie [Afrikaans]; Enzunge (applied to some of the bishops, widows and sparrows) [Kwangali]; Inzwa-unzwe [Shona]; Tswere (generic term for sparrows, petronias and canaries [Tswana]; Kaapse rotsmus [Dutch]; Moineau bridé [French]; Gelbkehlsperling [German]; Pardal-de-garganta-amarela [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: Passeridae

Petronia superciliaris (Yellow-throated petronia, Yellow-throated sparrow) 

Yellow-throated petronia. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Petronia superciliaris (Yellow-throated petronia, Yellow-throated sparrow)  Petronia superciliaris (Yellow-throated petronia, Yellow-throated sparrow) 

Yellow-throated petronia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Yellow-throated petronia. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in sub-Equatorial Africa from southern DRC through southern Tanzania, Zambia, Angola and Malawi to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common in northern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), northern and south-eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eastern South Africa, while more scarce further west to the Eastern Cape and the North-West Province.

Distribution of Yellow-throated petronia 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.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Greater honeyguide and Lesser honeyguide.


It mainly eats arthropods, seeds and nectar, foraging both on the ground and in the tree canopy, gleaning food from leaves and branches. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
    • nectar
      • Aloe
        • A. marlothii (Mountain aloe)
        • A. candelabrum (Candelabra aloe)
        • A. greatheadii (Spotted aloe)
      • mistletoes (Loranthaceae)
  • Arthropods


  • Monogamous with a life-long pair bond, nesting solitarily and defending its territory against intruders.
  • The nest is probably built by the female, consisting of a cup attached to a pad, made of old-man's-beard lichen (Usnea) and grass and lined with hair and feathers. It is typically placed in a cavity in the trunk of a tree, which can be natural or the old nest of a barbet or woodpecker.
Petronia superciliaris (Yellow-throated petronia, Yellow-throated sparrow)   

Yellow-throated petronia at its hollow, Mutinondo, Zambia. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-March, peaking from about August-November.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 11-19 days.
  • The chicks are brooded by the female for the first 9-13 days of their lives and are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 17-19 days and becoming fully independent about 3 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.