Ortygospiza atricollis (African quailfinch, Quail finch) 

Gewone kwartelvinkie [Afrikaans]; Unonkxwe [Xhosa]; iNxenge, uNonklwe [Zulu]; Mukadi gonon [Kwangali]; Lekolikotoana, Lekolukotoana [South Sotho]; Kwartelastrild [Dutch]; Astrild-caille lunettes [French]; Wachtelastrild [German]; Bico-de-lacre-codorniz [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

Ortygospiza atricollis (African quailfinch, Quail finch)  Ortygospiza atricollis (African quailfinch, Quail finch) 

African quailfinch male, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

African quailfinch, Botswana. [photo Neil Gray ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in patches across sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia south through southern DRC, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in South Africa, excluding most of the Northern and Western Cape, southern Mozambique, Zimbabwe, northern and south-eastern Botswana and northern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip). It generally favours short, open grassland especially near water, as well as agricultural fields and woodland with patches of bare ground.

Distribution of African quailfinch 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.  

Movements and migrations

Nomadic in the non-breeding season, moving into regions which have recently experienced rainfall and leaving once the ground dries up.


It mainly eats grass seeds taken from the ground, supplemented with small arthropods, especially termites and spiders.


  • The nest (see image below) is built by both sexes, consisting of a ball-shaped structure of grass blades, lined with seeding grass inflorescences and feathers. It is typically placed within or on top of a grass tuft, with the entrance often facing a small patch of bare soil.
Ortygospiza atricollis (African quailfinch, Quail finch)  

African quailfinch nest with eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • Egg-laying season is from November-June, peaking from January-April.
  • It lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 15 days.
  • The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 18-19 days and are able to fend for themselves about 26 days 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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