Estrilda perreini (Grey waxbill) 

Gryssysie [Afrikaans]; Zwartstaartastrild [Dutch]; Astrild à queue noire [French]; Schwarzschwanz-schönbürzel [German]; Bico-de-lacre-cinzento [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

Estrilda perreini (Grey waxbill)  Estrilda perreini (Grey waxbill) 
Grey waxbill, Amatikulu Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Grey waxbill. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Gabon through Angola and Malawi to southern Africa, where it is locally common in north-central and southern Mozambique, extending into eastern Zimbabwe and KwaZulu-Natal. It generally prefers dense undergrowth along edges of lowland and evergreen forest, coastal bush, sand forest and thickets.

Distribution of Grey 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 supplemented with insects and nectar, doing most of its foraging on the ground and in vegetation, plucking seeds directly from plants. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • grass
        • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
      • Casuarina equisetifolia (Horsetail tree)
      • Sclerocarya birrea (Marula)
  • Insects


  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an oval-shaped structure made of grass stems, which protrude outward to form a side entrance; the interior is lined with grass inflorescences (including Melinis). It is typically placed in a shrub or small tree, although instead of building its own it may use an abandoned weaver's nest, such as Dark-backed, Spectacled and Village weavers.
  • Egg-laying season is from about March-April in Zimbabwe and from October-February in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12 days (recorded in captivity).
  • The chicks are brooded for the first week or so of their lives, leaving the nest at about 19-21 days (recorded in captivity) and becoming fully independent about a week later.


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. 



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