Vidua purpurascens (Purple indigobird, Purple widowfinch) 

Witpootblouvinkie [Afrikaans]; Purperstaalvink [Dutch]; Combassou violacé [French]; Weißfuß-atlaswitwe [German]; Viúva-púrpura [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 purpurascens (Purple indigobird, Purple widowfinch) Vidua purpurascens (Purple indigobird, Purple widowfinch) 

Purple indigobird male, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Purple indigobird female, Thornybush Game Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Although it occupies isolated patches of Tanzania and Zambia, the bulk of its population occurs from Angola to Zambia, Malawi and southern Africa. Here it is uncommon to locally common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa, while more scarce in Botswana and Namibia. It generally prefers dry woodland, riverine forest, rank grass and edges of thickets and cultivated fields.

Distribution of Purple 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.  


It mainly eats grass seeds, doing most of its foraging on bare ground, scratching the soil with its feet to uncover seeds. The following food items have been recorded in its diet in Zambia:

  • Grass seeds
    • Echinochloa colonum (Swamp grass)
    • Setaria
    • Urochloris
    • Dactycynodon
  • Termite alates


  • Polygynous brood parasite, with each male defending a territory centered on a prominent perch, which is used for calling and displaying. Intruders, which can be the same species or a different indigobird, are aggressively chased out of the territory by the male. Its sole host is the Jameson's firefinch, it has not been recorded to parasitise or mimic any other species.
  • Egg-laying season is from January-May.
  • It lays one egg per day in sets of 3-4, taking a few days break in between sets.
  • It is thought that the chick is reared alongside Jameson's firefinch young, as fledglings of the two species have been recorded together in family groups.


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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