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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 09, 2021

15 Amaze-wing Facts About The African Firefinch For Kids

Check out these amazing African firefinch facts.

The African firefinch (Lagonosticta rubricata), also known as the dark firefinch or blue-billed firefinch, named for the color of its bill, is a small bird found in almost every part of Africa with an estimated distribution of length about 2,100,000 sq mi (5,400,000 sq km). The male bird is bright red in color and has a round body with white spots. It has a range of communicative tones and calls that give off a cheerful sound. 

It occurs in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa ranging from Senegala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, all the way to Mozambique. They prefer humid vegetative habitats like woodland, grasslands, and similar areas, eating a consistent diet of seeds as well as insects. The breeding season begins in November where they make their nests on long grassy platforms. Pairs are broody.

If you like reading about different birds then do check out our purple finch facts and Gouldian finch facts pages for more similar content.

African Firefinch Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African firefinch?

The blue-billed firefinch is a type of bird from the family of Estrildidae under the animal kingdom. 

What class of animal does an African firefinch belong to?

The blue-billed firefinch belongs to the class of Aves under the genus Lagonosticta from the family of Estrildidae. 

How many African firefinches are there in the world?

The estimated number of the African firefinch (Lagonosticta rubricata) is currently not available but we do know that their range of habitat is quite large in the sub-Saharan African continent and they are abundant in nature. As a result, there are no real threats to their existence and the species is thriving. 

Where does an African firefinch live?

The blue-billed firefinch is an endemic bird of Africa and is found around many countries. From the Saharan desert all the way to South Africa. Habitat includes tropical forests, dry woodlands, to grassland habitats, and is almost seen everywhere. They are typically found in the regions of Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. 

What is an African firefinch's habitat?

The African firefinch (Lagonosticta rubricata) generally lives in thick vegetated humid habitats like the savannah, woodlands, forest edges, bushes, streams, rivers with vegetation, deserts, suburban areas including roads, gardens, and even rural villages.

Who do African firefinches live with?

The African firefinch is usually seen in pairs in a nest or in small family parties, often mixed with other breeds of firefinch.

How long does an African firefinch live?

The average life expectancy of an African firefinch is estimated to be four to seven years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season begins during spring or autumn, similar to many other birds. It is interesting to note that these birds like being private during their mating hours and hate being watched. The nest is built by the male birds and has a side entrance, like a small door for them to enter and get out of. The nest is typically dome-shaped, made with the help of dry grass. 

The females typically lay about three to six eggs in each clutch. The incubation period lasts for 13 days where both the pairs incubate the eggs in turn. The chicks hatch within three weeks and are usually independent in a month's time frame. 

What is their conservation status?

The bird is one among many birds of the world that is not a threatened species and is listed as of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. 

African Firefinch Fun Facts

What do the African firefinches look like?

The female firefinch is dull appearance-wise and appears more yellow or brown in color.

African firefinch is a small-sized bird from the species of Estrildid finch where the male birds have a gray-brown neck, nape, and crown that merges with its olive-brown mantle with the scapular, tertial, and wing coverts which is also olive-brown or sometimes gray in color. Their upper tail coverts and outer tail feathers are a deep carmine red with a hint of black while the underparts of their chin to belly are a deep scarlet. They have small white spots on their upper breast and wing flanks while it is completely scarlet under them. The belly is gray in color with a black vent and undertail while their bill is a blackish-gray with a pink base in their lower mandible. The females are quite similar to their male counterparts but less colorful. As for the juveniles, they do not have any red underparts and are paler in color in comparison to a breeding male.

How cute are they?

They are very cute! The African firefinch is one among many small-sized birds of the world who are absolutely adorable, not just in appearance but by their sweet chirpy voice as well. 

How do they communicate?

The bird has various notes, songs, and calls that are randomly repeated from time to time. These sounds include trills, whistles, squeaks, and warbles. Their alarm call is a harsh ticking sound that resembles the scolding call of Eurasian wren while their other calls include the rising trilling twitter 'trrrrrrr-t' sound and a loud 'tui-tui-tui' sound followed by a 'wink-wink-wink' call. 

How big is an African firefinch?

An African firefinch is a small-sized bird, with an average length of about 4-4.7 in (10.2-11.9 cm). 

How fast can an African firefinch fly?

The blue-billed firefinches are assumed to be fast flyers according to their body size and wingspan similar to records of other smaller birds of the world, but the exact speed at which they fly is unknown. 

How much does an African firefinch weigh?

The African firefinch, or blue-billed firefinch, weighs about 0.3-0.4 oz (8.6-11.7 g). 

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the blue-billed firefinch depending on its sex but they can be referred to as a hen and cock for the female and males respectively. 

What would you call a baby African firefinch?

Baby firefinches are called chicks.

What do they eat?

An Estrildid firefinch's diet mainly consists of insects and seeds. They eat seeds like canary seeds, millet, panicum, and other seeds rich in vitamins and minerals from foraging in the ground. They also eat sprouted seeds, freshly ground green seed heads along with leafy green vegetables like kale, silverbeet, choy, and spinach. The birds eat insects like mealworms, termites, maggots, and mole crickets

Are they dangerous?

No, not at all. These birds are some of the most social species in the world and have been adapted to human settlements quite well. They do not pose any threats to humans. 

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the Estrildid finch will definitely make good pets with their cheerful voices and appearance. In fact, many pairs have been successfully kept in colonies or as a part of a mixed collection in many housing compounds. They are available as pets and encouraged for the same.   

Did you know...

They are local migratory birds that move during the rainy season when their temporary shelters are filled up with water. The younger birds are involved in extensive dispersal movement while the others just fly away to a local migratory ground. Also, being sociable species, they can easily be bred in indoor cages, similar to ruddy finches. Once they are adapted to their environment, they would fledge their heads out of the bars from the cages, usually designed for species like canaries and budgerigars, laying eggs inside comfortably. The birds are not fussy about partners and can be paired up easily with one another. All you need to do is take good care of them and keep them healthy. Also, make sure to put them in woven wicker nests or nest boxes, to resemble their natural nesting grounds.

What will make a red-billed firefinch nest in my yard?

To attract a red-billed firefinch in your yard, make sure that you provide a water source to ensure that the species visit your garden. You can install a simple birdbath, shallow enough for the birds to take a dip and be comfortable. Plant more fruit-bearing trees and flowering shrubs so that the birds are provided with food. Place rotten leaves for insects to set up their homes for the birds to feast on. You can also provide a temporary shelter for them to hide or take cover in your yard. Finally, make sure that your garden gets enough light, no bird likes darkness. These little details will definitely attract the species in your yard and be your friend!

Who eats African firefinch?

Being a small bird, the firefinch is usually a target of large predators like cats, snakes, raccoons, owls, hawks, eagles, foxes, and other predators.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including Australian magpie fun facts and ferruginous hawk interesting facts for kids

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable African firefinch coloring pages.

Main image by Alandmanson.

Second image by Derek Keats.

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