Lavender Waxbill: Native to tropical West Africa, this waxbill is gray overall. It has a black eye stripe, red to black bill, and flanks have a few small white spots. The rump, tail, and tail coverts are red, and legs and feet are gray. Diet includes chickweed, insects and spiders. Undulating flight, alternating between flapping and gliding. Sexes are similar.
Range and Habitat
Lavender Waxbill: This species is native to tropical and subtropical shrublands of central Africa, and was first recorded in Hawaii on the Island of Oahu in 1965. Individuals have established colonies on the islands of Hawaii and Maui. These birds prefer dry scrub habitats, lawns, parks, and gardens.
Estrildid Finches (Estrildidae)
The Estrildid Finches are one of the one hundred eighteen families of birds in the order PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez); a large taxonomic order that also includes the shrikes, the gnatcatchers, and the wrens.
The Estrildidae (pronounced es-TRIL-duh-dee) family, which includes the waxbills, contains one hundred and forty-one species in twenty-nine genera mostly found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia.
There are thirteen species of Estrildidae in five genera that occur in North America (including the Hawaiian Islands). The waxbills and mannikins are members of this bird family.
Members of the Estrildidae such as the waxbills are known for their colorful bills with a “wax-like” appearance. They are also well known for being kept as pets as they have pleasant calls, attractive plumages, and are easy to care for.
The Estrildidae are small finches with fairly short tails, short wings, rather short legs with strong feet adapted to perching, and rounded heads with large, stout bills suited to cracking open seeds.
Members of this family are often plumaged in attractive patterns of brown, white, and gray with black barring or spotting. Bright colors are common in many species with blue, red, purple, and yellow occurring in their plumages, while their bills are often colored red.
All of the species of estrildid finches that occur in North American are introduced species established from populations of captive birds. In North America, there are populations in regions with climates warm enough to support these tropical birds such as in the states of Florida, Hawaii, and California. They typically occur in habitats similar to those of their native range; open marsh or grassy areas.
Like other introduced species, estrildid finches are not migratory in North America.
Members of the Estrildidae are social birds that often occur in flocks while foraging, some species nesting in loose colonies. Although they take insects, small seeds and grain make up the bulk of their diet. They forage for these food sources in low vegetation and on the ground.
In North America, the estrildid finches are introduced species that are not considered to be threatened. In other parts of their range, though, some species such as the beautiful Gouldian Finch and localized Java Sparrow, are threatened by habitat loss and capture for the pet trade.
Members of this family have filled a variety of seed eating niches, including that of bamboo seeding events; an unpredictable occurrence that happens once during a bamboo plant’s life. The parrotfinch species occupy this niche in Asia, Australia, and some Pacific Islands, usually occurring in nomadic flocks that are rarely found away from these rare seeding events.