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Sporopipes squamifrons (Scaly-feathered finch) 

Baardmannetjie [Afrikaans]; Thaga (also applied to Village weaver) [North Sotho]; Letsetsenkana, Rašêušwanêng [Tswana]; baardmanwever [Dutch]; Sporopipe squameux [French]; Schnurrbärtchen [German]; Tecelão-de-testa-malhada [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: Ploceidae

Sporopipes squamifrons (Scaly-feathered finch)  Sporopipes squamifrons (Scaly-feathered finch) 

Scaly-feathered finch. [photo Lorinda Steenkamp ©]

Scaly-feathered finch, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Sporopipes squamifrons (Scaly-feathered finch)

Scaly-feathered finch flock, Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, South Africa. [photo Lorinda Steenkamp ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from Zimbabwe and northern South Africa to Botswana, Namibia and the south-western Angola. It generally prefers dry Acacia woodland with scattered small trees, also in bushy vegetation along seasonal rivers, farmyards and suburban gardens.

Distribution of Scaly-throated finch 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 (at different stages of development) has been recorded as prey of the following animals:

  • Adults
  • Eggs and chicks
    • Acanthoplus (armoured bush crickets)


It mainly eats the seeds of grasses (including Aristida and Schmidtia) supplemented with insects such as termites, doing most of its foraging on the ground.


  • Monogamous, usually solitary nester, although multiple nests may occasionally be clustered in a small area.
  • The nest is a hollow ball made of dry grass stems and inflorescences with a short entrance tunnel, while the interior is lined with fine grass flowers. It often uses the stems and attached flowers of the aromatic Pentzia plant, possibly because the smell repulses ectoparasites. It is typically placed in the thin branches of a thorny tree or bush, sometimes conjoining with an old flycatcher, shrike or weaver nest.
  • Egg-laying season is year round, peaking from about December-June.
  • It lays 2-7 eggs, which are incubated for about 10-12 days.
  • Little is known about the chicks, other then that they leave the nest after about 14-18 days.


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.