Coccopygia melanotis (Swee waxbill) 

[= Estrilda melanotis

Suidelike swie [Afrikaans]; ubuSukuswane [Zulu]; Katjikilili (applied to some of waxbills and twinspots) [Kwangali]; Xidzingirhi (generic term for firefinches and waxbills; also applied to Ground woodpecker [check]) [Tsonga]; Groenrugastrild [Dutch]; Astrild joues noires [French]; Gelbbauchastrild [German]; Bico-de-lacre-meridional [Portuguese]

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Coccopygia melanotis (Swee waxbill) 
Swee waxbill male. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ] Swee waxbill female, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]
Coccopygia melanotis (Swee waxbill)  Coccopygia melanotis (Swee waxbill) 
Swee waxbill male (left) and female (right) feeding on the seeds of the Setaria megaphylla (Broad-leafed bristle Grass), Cavern Resort, KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ]

For information about this species, see

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, occurring from the Limpopo Province south through Swaziland and the extreme south-west of Mozambique to KwaZulu-Natal, extending east to the Eastern and Western Cape. It generally prefers edges of montane and coastal forest, wooded valleys in fynbos, bushy hillsides, grassy clearings in woodland, plantations and gardens.

Distribution of Swee waxbill 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.  


It mainly eats seeds taken directly from grasses, supplemented with insects caught on the ground and in vegetation. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • Seeds
      • Melinis repens (Natal redtop)
      • Digitaria eriantha (Common finger grass)
      • Stenotaphrum secundatum (Buffalo grass)
      • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
      • Setaria megaphylla (Broad-leafed bristle Grass)
      • sedges
      • thistles (Compositae)
      • unripe Bidens pilosa (Common blackjack)
    • buds of Buddleja (sage)
  • Insects


  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an oval-shaped structure with a side-top entrance, built of dry grass and lined with soft grass inflorescences, feathers and plant down. It is typically placed in a tree, bush, creeper, garden pergola or Aloe, anywhere from about 2-9 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-April.
  • It lays 3-9 eggs, although the larger clutch sizes may have been laid by two females, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12-13 days (recorded in captivity).
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 19-22 days, becoming fully independent about 15-19 days later (both ranges recorded in captivity).


Not threatened, although illegal capture for cage-bird trade is cause for concern.


  • 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. 



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