Estrildidae, or estrildid finches, is a family of small seed-eating passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They comprise species commonly known as munias, mannikins, firefinches, parrotfinches and waxbills. Despite the word "finch" being included in the common names of some species, they are not closely related to birds with this name in other families, such as the Fringillidae, Emberizidae or Passerellidae.

Red browed finch02.jpg
Red-browed finch, Neochmia temporalis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Passeroidea
Family: Estrildidae
Bonaparte, 1850

See text

They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short, thick, but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but vary widely in plumage colours and patterns.

All estrildids build large, domed nests and lay five to ten white eggs. Many species build roost nests. Some of the firefinches and pytilias are hosts to the brood-parasitic indigobirds and whydahs, respectively.

Most are sensitive to cold and require warm, usually tropical, habitats, although a few, such as the eastern alpine mannikin, mountain firetail, red-browed finch, and the genus Stagonopleura, have adapted to the cooler climates of southern Australia and the highlands of New Guinea.

The smallest species of the family is the Shelley's oliveback (Nesocharis shelleyi) at a mere 8.3 centimetres (3.3 in), although the lightest species is the black-rumped waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes) at 6 g (0.21 oz). The largest species is the Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) at 17 cm (6.7 in) and 25 g (0.88 oz).[1]


The family Estrildidae was introduced in 1850 by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte as "Estreldinae", a spelling variant of the subfamily name.[2][3] In the list of world birds maintained by Frank Gill, Pamela Rasmussen and David Donsker on behalf of the International Ornithological Committee (IOC) the family contains 141 species divided into 41 genera.[4] Molecular phylogentic studies have shown the family Estrildidae is sister to the family Viduidae containing the indigobirds and whydahs. The two families diverged around 15.5 million year ago.[5] The most recent common ancestor of the Estrildidae is estimated to have lived around 10.9 million years ago.[6] A genetic study of the Estrildidae by Urban Olsson and Per Alström published in 2020 identified 6 major clades. The radiations within these clades occurred between 4.5 and 8.9 million years ago. The authors proposed that each of these clades should be treated as a subfamily.[6] This contrasts with an earlier proposal in which the family was divided in three subfamilies.[7]


Heteromunia – pictorella mannikin

Oreostruthus – mountain firetail

Stagonopleura – firetails (3 species)

Neochmia – finches (2 species)

Emblema – painted finch

Bathilda – star finch

Aidemosyne – plum-headed finch

Stizoptera – double-barred finch

Taeniopygia – zebra finch

Poephila – finches (3 species)


Spermestes – mannikins, silverbill (5 species)

Lepidopygia – Madagascar mannikin

Euodice – silverbills (2 species)

Padda – sparrows (2 species)

Mayrimunia – streak-headed mannikin

Lonchura – munias, mannikins (27 species)


Chloebia – Gouldian finch

Erythrura – parrotfinches (12 species)


Nesocharis – olivebacks (2 species)

Coccopygia – waxbills (3 species)

Mandingoa – green twinspot

Cryptospiza – crimsonwings (4 species)

Parmoptila – antpeckers (3 species)

Nigrita – nigritas (4 species)

Delacourella – grey-headed oliveback

Brunhilda – waxbills (2 species)

Glaucestrilda – waxbills (3 species)

Estrilda – waxbills (12 species)


Ortygospiza – quailfinch

Amadina – finches (2 species)

Amandava – avadavats, waxbill (3 species)


Granatina – grenadier, waxbill (2 species)

Uraeginthus – cordon-bleus, waxbill (3 species)

Spermophaga – bluebills (3 species)

Pyrenestes – seedcrackers (3 species)

Pytilia – pytilias (5 species)

Euschistospiza – twinspots (2 species)

Hypargos – twinspots (2 species)

Clytospiza – brown twinspot

Lagonosticta – firefinches (11 species)

Phylogeny based on a study of the Estrildidae by Urban Olsson and Per Alström published in 2020. The locust finch in the genus Paludipasser was not included in the study.[6]

Genera listEdit

Image Genus Living species
  Heteromunia Mathews, 1913
  Oreostruthus De Vis, 1898
  Stagonopleura Reichenbach, 1850
  Neochmia Gray, GR, 1849
  Emblema Gould, 1842
  Bathilda Reichenbach, 1862
  Aidemosyne Reichenbach, 1862
  Stizoptera Oberholser, 1899
  Taeniopygia Reichenbach, 1862
  Poephila Gould, 1842
  Spermestes Swainson, 1837
  Lepidopygia Reichenbach, 1862
  Euodice Reichenbach, 1862
  Padda Reichenbach, 1850
Mayrimunia Wolters, 1949
  Lonchura Sykes, 1832
  Chloebia Reichenbach, 1862
  Erythrura Swainson, 1837
  Nesocharis Alexander, 1903
  Coccopygia Reichenbach, 1862
  Mandingoa Hartert, E, 1919
  Cryptospiza Salvadori, 1884
  Parmoptila Cassin, 1859
  Nigrita Strickland, 1843
  Delacourella Wolters, 1949
  Brunhilda Reichenbach, 1862
  Glaucestrilda Roberts, 1922
  Estrilda Swainson, 1827
  Ortygospiza Sundevall, 1850
Paludipasser Neave, 1909
  Amadina Swainson, 1827
  Amandava Blyth, 1836
  Granatina Sharpe, 1890
  Uraeginthus Cabanis, 1851
  Spermophaga Swainson, 1837
  Pyrenestes Swainson, 1837
  Pytilia Swainson, 1837
  Euschistospiza Wolters, 1943
  Hypargos Reichenbach, 1862
  Clytospiza Shelley, 1896
  Lagonosticta Cabanis, 1851


  1. ^ "Estrildid FINCHes".
  2. ^ Bonaparte, Charles Lucian (1850). Conspectus Generum Avium (in Latin). Volume 1. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 450. |volume= has extra text (help)
  3. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. pp. 117, 156, 218, 228.
  4. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2021). "Waxbills, parrotfinches, munias, whydahs, Olive Warbler, accentors, pipits". IOC World Bird List Version 11.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  5. ^ Oliveros, C.H.; et al. (2019). "Earth history and the passerine superradiation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. 116 (16): 7916–7925. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813206116.
  6. ^ a b c Olsson, Urban; Alström, Per (2020). "A comprehensive phylogeny and taxonomic evaluation of the waxbills (Aves: Estrildidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 146: 106757. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106757.
  7. ^ Payne, Robert B. (2010). "Family Estrildidae (Waxbills)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D.A. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 15: Weavers to New World Warblers. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions. pp. 234–377. ISBN 978-84-96553-68-2. |volume= has extra text (help)

External linksEdit