Waxbills (Estrildidae)

African Firefinch (Lagonosticta rubricata) - HBW 15, p. 341

French: Amarante foncé German: Dunkelamarant Spanish: Amaranta Ocre
Other common names: Blue-billed/Brown-backed/Dark/Lilac Firefinch, Ruddy Waxbill; Pale-billed/Landana Firefinch (landanae)

Taxonomy: F.[ringilla] rubricata M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823, "terra Caffrorum" = Uitenhage, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Race landanae often treated as a separate species, on basis mainly of reddish bill colour; recent studies of mitochondrial phylogeny indicate that it is closer to nominate (the two share a more recent common ancestor) than to other races, but mouth of landanae nestling similar to that of congica, and songs and calls appear to be the same; also, adult males in NW Angola (Uíge) have bill varying from violet above and red below to grey-blue above and pale horn-coloured below (both with black tip), with plumage nearly identical. Most other races intergrade with one ano.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: F.[ringilla] rubricata M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823, "terra Caffrorum" = Uitenhage, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Race landanae often treated as a separate species, on basis mainly of reddish bill colour; recent studies of mitochondrial phylogeny indicate that it is closer to nominate (the two share a more recent common ancestor) than to other races, but mouth of landanae nestling similar to that of congica, and songs and calls appear to be the same; also, adult males in NW Angola (Uíge) have bill varying from violet above and red below to grey-blue above and pale horn-coloured below (both with black tip), with plumage nearly identical. Most other races intergrade with one another, although nominate not known to intergrade with haematocephala. Proposed race neglecta (described from Guinea-Bissau), named on basis of red cheeks of female, considered untenable; treated as a synonym of polionota; ugandae (described from Fort Portal, in Uganda) synonymized with congica. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • polionota Shelley, 1873 - S Senegal, SW Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and N Liberia E to Nigeria.
  • congica Sharpe, 1890 - Cameroon E to S Sudan, NE DRCongo (Uele, Kivu) and W Uganda, S to Gabon and N & NE Angola.
  • haematocephala Neumann, 1907 - E Africa from Sudan E of R Nile, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya Highlands S to Zambia, Malawi, highlands of E Zimbabwe, coastal Tanzania and N & C Mozambique (N of R Save).

     See all 5 subspecies
  • polionota Shelley, 1873 - S Senegal, SW Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and N Liberia E to Nigeria.
  • congica Sharpe, 1890 - Cameroon E to S Sudan, NE DRCongo (Uele, Kivu) and W Uganda, S to Gabon and N & NE Angola.
  • haematocephala Neumann, 1907 - E Africa from Sudan E of R Nile, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya Highlands S to Zambia, Malawi, highlands of E Zimbabwe, coastal Tanzania and N & C Mozambique (N of R Save).
  • landanae Sharpe, 1890 - NW Angola (Cabinda S to Gabela and upper R Cuanza) and lower R Congo in S PRCongo and SW DRCongo.
  • rubricata ( M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823) - N & E South Africa, Swaziland and S Mozambique (S of R Save).