Common Waxbill

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Estrilda astrild

  • SWAHILI NAME: Mshigi kawaida

Common waxbills, native to Africa, have become popular pets, and they are now established in fields and forests of the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and as far away as Hawaii.

Common Waxbill

Common Waxbill



Daily Rhythm





5-11 g


Length: 9.5-13cm
Wingspan: around 12 cm 

Common Waxbill

Trivia Question

The common waxbill can be easily recognized by its:


Even though it has a red mask similar to the Crimson-rumped waxbill, the common waxbill does not have any red feathers on its rump.

Social Structure

Social birds that are active during the day, common waxbills forage in groups that can contain hundreds of birds, and will groom each other, a behavior called allopreening.


Common waxbills have a distinctive flight call and several other buzzes and tweets, one of which sounds like “ti-cket please!”


Common waxbills “curtsy” to each other. They perch on grass stems while eating seeds, and also stay on the ground and step on stems to make feeding easier.


Least concern


Common waxbills primarily eat grass seeds, but will boost their protein intake with ants, termites, and moths, especially when breeding. They also need to drink water, since their seed diets do not provide much moisture.


In Kenya, monogamous pairs will sometimes produce two or three broods every year. Nesting in grass clumps or tangled vegetation, they construct a large hollow ball with an added “cock’s nest” on top where the male sleeps. Both parents incubate their eggs and raise the chicks, which are independent around a month after they hatch.

Friends & Foes

Similar to other finches, common waxbills have predators that include birds of prey, mammals, and snakes. Pin-tailed whydahs lay their eggs in common waxbill nests so that the waxbills raise the chicks as their own.

Population in Kenya

Common waxbills are particularly numerous around Lake Victoria. Around 17 subspecies of common waxbills can be found throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Range & Habitat

These birds are found throughout much of Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

They frequent marshes and other wetlands, tall grasslands, open fields and forests, and cultivated gardens and farms.

Did you know?

When common waxbills are around three weeks old, their parents encourage them to fledge by not feeding them and calling loudly at the entrance of the nest.