African Silverbill - Lonchura cantans

Length 4.0 in (10.2 cm)
Weight 0.4-0.5 oz (10-14 g)
Clutch Size 3-6
Chicks at birth Altricial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern
Continents:EU, AF, Islands

The African Silverbill is an imported estrildid finch from Africa and is found throughout the Hawaiian Islands. The first recording sighting of them was in 1970. African Silverbills are mainly kept as a caged pet outside of their native African environs and the ones found in Hawaii may be escaped or abandoned pets.

African Silverbills are a small bird with the upperparts brown, the underparts white and a long pointed black tail. The bill is a silver-blue and chunky. Both sexes are similar and difficult to distinguish.

(For more information)

Diet: The African Silverbill eats grass seeds, either picked from the ground or from the plants themselves. They may also eat aphids.

Courtship: Quoting from wikipedia:

"The male displays by grasping a stem of grass at one end, and hops or flies to near the female. At once he sleeks down his feathers, stands upright with tail straight down, and jerks his head upwards a few times. He then leans forward, twists his tail towards the female and fluffs his flank and belly feathers. At this stage he usually drops the straw and begins to sing and dance. The flank and ventral feathers are not always fluffed out, and the intensity of the display probably depends on the relationship of the two birds. If the female seems receptive the male will attempt copulation. However, most displays come to an end before this final phase is reached. Successful mating is usually followed by a little bill fencing and mutual preening."

Nesting: African Silverbill's nest is built form grasses and is lined with soft fibers and feathers. Nests are built in bushes, hedges, or in creepers on a house.

The clutch size is three to six eggs.

Habitat and Range: The African Silverbill is found south of the Sahara Desert in Africa. They have also been introduced to Portugal, Qatar and the Hawaiian Islands. They are common on the Big Island and Maui. They are not as common on the other Islands.

Vocalization: The African Silverbill has a trilling song and a tseep call.

Plumage/Molt: No information

Migration: Non-migratory in Hawaii.

Tongue/feet: No information


  • The Free Encyclopedia, Accessed June, 2012
  • Hawaii Audubon Society, Hawaii's Birds,Hawaiian Audubon Society, 2005

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