Vidua funerea (Dusky indigobird, Variable indigobird, Black widowfinch) 

Gewone blouvinkie [Afrikaans]; Groene atlasvink [Dutch]; Combassou noir [French]; Purpur-atlaswitwe [German]; Viva-negra [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: Viduidae

Vidua funerea (Dusky indigobird, Variable indigobird, Black widowfinch)  Vidua funerea (Dusky indigobird, Variable indigobird, Black widowfinch) 

Dusky indigobird male, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ]

Dusky indigobird female, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ]


For information about this species, see

Distribution and habitat

Although it has an isolated population in Nigeria and Cameroon, the bulk of its population occurs in patches from Kenya through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands and adjacent Mozambique, extending south to eastern South Africa, from Limpopo Province to the Eastern Cape. It generally prefers mesic woodland, edges of montane and riverine forests, grassy vegetation with weeds, orchards with annual grasses, lightly cultivated land and village gardens.

Distribution of Dusky indigobird 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.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of the Domestic cat (Felis cattus).


It mainly eats grass seeds uncovered in the soil, supplemented with termite alates caught aerially.


  • It is a polygynous brood parasite, with males defending a territory surrounding a prominent perch which it uses to display on. The only bird recorded as its host is the African firefinch.
  • The female eats any existing eggs in the firefinch nest before laying a single one of its own, laying eggs in sets of three.


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. 



 Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Birds home   Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search