Cryptospiza reichenovii (Red-faced crimsonwing) 

Rooiwangwoudsysie [Afrikaans]; Reichenows bergastrild [Dutch]; Sénégali de Reichenow [French]; Reichenows bergastrild [German]; Asa-vermelha-de-mascarilha [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: Estrildidae

Cryptospiza reichenovii (Red-faced crimsonwing)   

Red-faced crimsonwing, Bvumba Mountains, Zimbabwe. [K Vang, W Dabrowka/ Bird Explorers / AFBID ©]


Distribution and habitat

It has isolated populations scattered across sub-Saharan Africa, in West Africa, western Angola and the area from Tanzania to northern Malawi and eastern Zambia, with a localised population in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands and adjacent Mozambique, including the area around Mount Gorongosa. It generally prefers clearings and edges of evergreen montane forest, bracken-brier and other dense vegetation along rivers and sometimes in the forest interior, also occurring in well-wooded gardens and tea and pine plantations.

Distribution of Red-faced crimsonwing 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).


It mainly eats grass seeds supplemented with insects, doing most of its foraging on the ground or in undergrowth. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Seeds
    • grass
      • Panicum (guinea grasses)
      • Setaria (millets and bristle grasses)
      • Streblochaete longiarista (forest grass)
      • maize
    • Pinus patula (Cluster pine)
  • Insects


  • The nest is mainly built by the female with material gathered by the male, consisting of an oval ball of fine grass, moss and skeletonised leaves, with a spout-like entrance protruding from the side. The interior is lined with feathery grass seedheads, plant down, feathers and sometimes Marasmius fungus. It is typically placed in the fork of a tree fern, sapling, or thorny bush.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-March.
  • It lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes (recorded in captivity).
  • The chicks are fed and brooded by both parents, leaving the nest after about 21 days and becoming fully independent about 10-12 days later.


Not threatened, although it is vulnerable to destruction of montane habitats.


  • 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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