Lagonosticta nitidula (Brown firefinch) 

Bruinvuurvinkie [Afrikaans]; Bruine amarant [Dutch]; Amarante nitidule [French]; Großer pünktchenamarant [German]; Peito-de-fogo-castanho [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

Lagonosticta nitidula (Brown firefinch)  Lagonosticta nitidula (Brown firefinch) 

Brown firefinch. [photo Stephen Davis ©]

Brown firefinch. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern DRC, Angola, Zambia and south-western Tanzania to southern Africa, where it is locally common in northern Botswana, north-western Zimbabwe and north-eastern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip). It generally favours reedbeds (Phragmites), Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), tall grass and thickets along watercourses, swamps and marshes, occasionally moving into adjacent thorn scrub and riparian woodland.

Distribution of Brown firefinch 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).

Predators and parasites

Its eggs are eaten by Common egg-eater (Dasypeltis scabra).


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

  • Grass seeds (taken in captivity)
    • Echinochloa colonum (Jungle rice)
    • Eragrostis tef (Teff grass)
    • Setaria verticillata (Bur bristle grass)
    • Setaria sphacelata (Golden bristle grass)
    • Melinis repens (Natal red top)
  • Insects


  • The nest is a grass ball with a side entrance, lined with feathers and placed low in a bush or thatch roof of a building. It may also use abandoned nests of Spectacled weaver, Golden weaver, Southern brown-throated weaver, Village weaver, Thick-billed weaver and sunbirds.
  • Egg-laying season in Zimbabwe is from October-April, peaking from January-April.
  • It lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 14-16 days.
  • The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 15-19 days.


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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