Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beauty Pageant

Some birds just show it off. A group of seedeaters called Estrildids are small but especially attractive. Even the duller species have their flair. Let's take a look.

Male green-winged pytilia (Pytilia melba) at Agahozo-Shalom Youth
Village, Rwanda

Be sure to vote for your favorite estrildid in the comments section.

Female green-winged pytilia (Pytilia melba) at Agahozo-Shalom Youth
Village, Rwanda

Male red-cheeked cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) at
Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda

Estrildids are little birds. All of the estrildids range from 9cm to 14 cm (3.5-5.5 inches) in length.

Female red-cheeked cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) at
Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda

Male purple grenadier (Uraeginthus ianthinogaster) in northeastern
Tanzania. The female lacks the purple on the breast and belly, but
is as attractive with a purple-white eye mask and rich brown-white
striping on the belly.

Male red-billed firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala) at Agahozo-Shalom
Youth Village, Rwanda.

Female red-billed firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala) at Agahozo-Shalom
Youth Village, Rwanda. Note the red spot in between the eye and
the bill and the white spots on the belly. She's a cutie!!

Yellow-bellied waxbills (Estrilda quartinia) in vegetation on the shore
of Lake Kivu, Rwanda.

Black-crowned waxbill (Estrilda nonnula) in vegetation near the shore
of Lake Kivu, Rwanda

Common waxbill (Estrilda astrild) in swamp vegetation near Lake
Mugesera, Rwanda

Fawn-breasted waxbill (Estrilda paludicola) at Agahozo-Shalom
Youth Village, Rwanda.

Crimson-rumped waxbills (Estrilda rhodopyga) at Agahozo-Shalom
Youth Village, Rwanda

Grey-headed silverbill (Lonchura griseicapilla) at Tarangire
National Park, Tanzania.

African silverbill (Lonchura cantans) in northeastern Tanzania.

Bronze mannakin (Lonchura cucullata) at Agahozo-Shalom Youth
Village, Rwanda. 

I never managed to get a picture of the red-headed bluebill (only saw it six times between Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda) or Peter's twinspot (seen once in Tanzania) but they would surely compete for the most spectacular estrildid in East Africa. Other esrtildids we saw include white-breasted nigrita, grey-headed nigrita, African firefinch, black-faced waxbill, black-headed waxbill, African quailfinch, cutthroat finch, black-and-white mannakin, and red-backed mannakin.

Shelley's Crimsonwing might have won it all, but I never got a glimpse of the bird. If you don't show up, you aren't in the pageant. Sorry, birdies, show up next time I look for you! We missed out on all the crimsonwings thus far, and we missed out on a few other neat twinspots and the white-collared oliveback. It's hard to see them all.

Please, comment below on your favorite estrildid. The winner gets a 2 centimeter tiara.

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