Pytilia afra (Orange-winged pytilia, Golden-backed pytilia) 

Geelrugmelba [Afrikaans]; Oranjevlerkmelba [Afrikaans]; Matemate (generic term for pytilias) [Kwangali]; Wenerastrild [Dutch]; Beaumarquet à dos jaune [French]; Wiener astrild [German]; Maracachão-d'asa-dourada [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

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in southern Ethiopia as well as from Gabon to southern Tanzania, south through Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is uncommon in patches of central and northern Mozambique, Zimbabwe and two separate areas of Botswana, generally preferring thickets and rank vegetation along rivers in mixed woodland, such as miombo (Brachystegia).

Distribution of Orange-winged pytilia 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 grass seeds supplemented with small arthropods, doing most of its foraging on bare patches of ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Grass seeds (taken in captivity)
    • Setaria verticillata (Bur bristle grass)
    • Panicum
      • P. maximum (Guinea grass)
      • P. laevifolium (Blue panicum)
      • P. natalense (Natal panicum)
      • P. schinzi (Sweet grass)
    • Urochloa mosambicensis (Common urochloa)
    • Paspalum distichum (Water couch)
    • Melinis repens (Natal red top)
  • Arthropods


  • The nest is an untidy ball-shaped structure with a side entrance, made of dry grass and herbs and lined feathers, especially of guineafowls. It is typically concealed in a fork close to the stem of a bush or small tree, roughly 1-3 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from about February-April.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12-13 days.
  • Little is known about the chicks, other then that they leave the nest after about 21 days.


Not threatened, although it is in demand for the cage bird trade.


  • 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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