Granatina granatina (Violet-eared waxbill) 

[= Uraeginthus granatinus

Koningblousysie [Afrikaans]; Katjikilili (applied to some of waxbills and twinspots) [Kwangali]; Xindzingiri bhanga (also applied to Common waxbill and Green-winged pytilia) [Tsonga]; Granaatastrild common [Dutch]; Cordonbleu grenadin [French]; Granatastrild, Blaubäckchen [German]; Monsenhor [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

Granatina granatina (Violet-eared waxbill)  Granatina granatina (Violet-eared waxbill) 
Violet-eared waxbill male, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Violet-eared waxbill male. [photo Callie de Wet ©]
Granatina granatina (Violet-eared waxbill) 
Violet-eared waxbill female, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from southern Angola and Zambia to Namibia, Botswana, western Zimbabwe and northern South Africa, while more scarce in southern Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe. It generally prefers shrub thickets, open Kalahari Acacia woodland, clumps of Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) in broad-leaved woodland and stands of Zambezi teak (Baikiaea plurijuga) with Sand Camwood (Baphia massaiensis) and Bauhinia scrub.

Distribution of Violet-eared 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 take directly from grasses or from the ground, supplemented with insects hawked aerially or plucked from the soil. It does most of its foraging in the morning and in the early evening, generally staying in shade to avoid the heat of the sun (especially in the Kalahari). The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • grass
        • Aristida
          • A. adscensionis (Annual bristle grass)
          • A. congesta (Prickle grass)
          • A. scabrivalis (Pers steekgras)
        • Brachiaria nigropedata (Spotted signal grass)
        • Cenchrus ciliaris (Buffelsgras)
        • Chloris pycnothrix (Chloris)
        • Digitaria argyrigrapta (Silver finger grass)
        • Eragrostis barbinodis (Cane beardgrass)
        • Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann's lovegrass)
        • Melinis repens (Natal redtop)
        • Panicum gilvum (Panic)
        • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
        • Setaria pallide-fusca (Garden bristle grass)
        • Setaria vericillata (Hooked bristlegrass)
        • Tragus berteronianus (Small carrot-seed grass)
        • Tricholaena monachne (Blousaadgras)
        • Trichoneura grandiglumis (Rolling grass)
        • Urochloa mosambicensis (Common uruchloa)
      • forbs
        • Alternanthera pungens (Khakiweed)
        • Portulaca oleracea (Bobbejaandraad)
    • fruit
      • Boscia albitrunca (Shepherds-tree)
      • Carissa bispinosa (Num-num)
      • Asparagus
    • nectar
      • Aloe greatheadii (Spotted aloe)
  • Insects


  • Monogamous, solitary nester with a life-long pair bond.
  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a thick-walled, vertical oval-shaped structure made of mainly grass stems, the ends of which stick out untidily. The interior is lined with green grass inflorescences and feathers of other birds. It is typically concealed in the foliage of a shrub or tree, such as Acacia, Boscia albitrunca (Sheperds-tree), Combretum apiculatium (Red bushwillow), Dicrostachys cinerea (Sickle-bush), Uclea (guarris), Grewia flava (Velvet raisin) and Maytenus (spike-thorns).
  • Egg-laying season is almost year round, peaking after summer rainfall when grass inflorescences sprout, from December-May.
  • It lays 2-7 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12-13 days.
  • The chicks are fed and brooded by both adults, leaving the nest after about 16-18 days.


Not threatened, although it is in demand in Mozambique for the cage-bird trade, however its nomadic movements prevent excessive trapping.


  • 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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