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The African Quailfinch is about half the size of a house sparrow. The plumage of the male African Quailfinch differs slightly from that of the female.
Males: The plumage is mostly grey-brown. The males of the eastern subspecies (O.a. muelleri of South Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and O.a. fuscocrissa of Ethiopia) have very distinct white eye-rings. They have a black mask covering the forehead, face and throat, except for a small white patch below the lower beak. The tail and wing coverts are of a darker brown grey. The brown breast is lightly barred with white, whilst on the flanks the barring is more marked. The bill is red during the breeding season, though the upper beak changes to black when not breeding. Their feet are a dusky fleshy color with long, lark-like hind claws which are indicative of this species’ terrestrial nature.
Females lack the black mask of the male, and she is generally paler than the male. Outside the breeding season, her upper beak turns dark brown.
Juveniles are similar to hens but have fainter barring and a darker bill.
Location and Ecosystem:
The African quailfinch, spectacled quailfinch, or white-chinned quailfinch (Ortygospiza fuscocrissa), is a common species of estrildid finch found in eastern and southern Africa.
The African Quailfinch is common in almost all parts of Africa, except the far northern parts – its range stretching from Liberia to Lake Chad and from southern Sudan to Zimbabwe. Specifically is occurs in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
African Quailfinches are usually seen in pairs or small flocks; and they frequent open areas with patchy grass growth – often close to water – including sandy grassland, marshes, farms and croplands, as well as recently mowed areas.
Quailfinches are true desert birds that are mostly found on the ground foraging for food. But they also spend a good time perching on stones and dead wood, for example. When this shy species is approached, their initial response is to crouch and “freeze.” When flushed, these finches raise straight into the air then drop straight back down to the ground – similar behavior has been observed in Quails.
The African Quailfinch is monogamous unless its mate dies, in which case it will seek out a new mate.
These finches build their dome-shaped nest made of grass stems and blades on the ground. The average clutch consists of 3 to 6 white eggs. Both parents participate in the incubation duties, though the female does most. The incubation period is about 14 days.
The young leave the nest about 19 to 20 days after hatching and are independent when they are about 30 days old.
Diet: The African Quailfinch is a ground feeder and its staple diet consists of small grass seeds. Particularly during the breeding season, they seek out live food, such as insects, spiders and worms. In Captivity: Paradise Earth Premium Finch Blend