Pyrenestes minor (Lesser seedcracker, Nyasa seedcracker) 

Oostelike saadbrekertjie [Afrikaans]; Rooistertsaadvretertjie [Afrikaans]; Granta-astrild [Dutch]; Petit pyréneste [French]; Kleiner purpurastrild [German]; Quebra-sementes do Niassa [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

Pyrenestes minor (Lesser seedcracker, Nyasa seedcracker)  Pyrenestes minor (Lesser seedcracker, Nyasa seedcracker) 
Lesser seedcracker. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©] Lesser seedcracker. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern Tanzania through southern Malawi to northern and central Mozambique, marginally extending into eastern Zimbabwe. It generally prefers tangled undergrowth with patches of rank grass, especially along streams or surrounding wetlands but also in miombo (Brachystegia) woodland and on the forest edge.

Distribution of Lesser seedcracker 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 sometimes eaten by Laniarius aethiopicus (Tropical boubou).


It mainly eats grass seeds, probably supplemented with insects. Its bill size varies considerably from 10-16mm long, indicating that some birds can eat harder seeds while others cannot. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is mainly built by the male, consisting of an untidy oval with a short entrance tunnel on one side, made of broad strips of grass, reeds and banana leaves. It is typically placed in a fork of a tree or bush, approximately 1.5-3.0 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from December-May.
  • It lays about 3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 15 days.
  • In captivity, the chicks leave the nest after about 20-23 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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