The Black-rumped (Red-eared) Waxbill

Black-rumped Waxbill8,11,12,13,23
Estrilda troglodytes
Hardiness:Hardy once acclimated
Singing ability:Somewhat pleasant
Compatibility:Passive, mixes well with other passive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:4" (10 cm)
Approx. cost:$20-$30 (US) per bird

Other common names

Black-rumped Waxbill, Gray Waxbill, Grey Waxbill, Red-eared Waxbill, Yellow-browed Waxbill, Pink-cheeked Waxbill



Area of distribution

From Senegal and the Gambia east to north-eastern Congo and north-western Uganda, Sudan north to Darfur and Sennar, Eritrea and north-western Abyssinia.



Peaceful, active, defensive of the nest.

Physical descriptions

Red beak, red eye stripe, gray plumage with a pink-brown hue on the head, wings, and body, a black rump, a black tail with white edges, an off-white undertail, and a pink patch on the bird's underside near the vent which may sometimes extend upwards towards the bird's chest. One mutation which has been reported causes the bird to have a orange bill and turns the pink and red colored feathers yellowish orange. Juveniles have a dark beak and light brown body color with a hint of pink around the vent; they lack cross barring on their feathers and also lack the red eye stripe.

Note: The Black-rumped (Red-eared) Waxbill is often confused with the Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild) due to their similar appearances. Both species have red beaks, a similar overall body coloration, and the red eye stripe. They can be differentiated, however, since the Common Waxbill has more distinct dark cross-barring on its feathers, a brown rump, and lacks the white lining around its tail. In addition, the Common Waxbill has a crimson stripe which extends down the center of its breast and belly.

Comparing the Black-rumped and Common Waxbills


The rose colored patch on the hen's underside can be paler than the cock's, although this may not be a reliable indicator of sex. The surest way to sex these birds is to know that only the cock bird sings.


The song is variable and birds will often sing several different variations. Songs usually include a loud "explosive" note followed by a descending note.


If you keep this species and have a photo of your birds to share, please submit your photo for possible inclusion on this site! Credit will be given to you.

Photo by Isidro Vila Verde
Wild Black-rumped waxbill. Photo by Isidro Vila Verde.

Photo by Isidro Vila Verde
Wild Black-rumped waxbill. Photo by Isidro Vila Verde.

Photo by Francis Yap
Photo by Francis Yap.

Photo by Francis Yap
Photo by Francis Yap.

Black-rumped Waxbill

Black-rumped Waxbill

Black-rumped Waxbill

Black-rumped Waxbill

Favorite foods

Small-grained millets, insects (ant pupae, green aphids, fruit flies).

Natural habitat

In dry steppes, within brush alongside rivers, marshes, open country with thorn scrub, and in the bushes of open grasslands.


These are very agile birds. Allopreening is common. Pair bonds may loosen during the non-breeding season, leading to pairing with new partners for subsequent breedings.

Special considerations

The Black-rumped Waxbill is believed to be parasitized by the Pin-tailed Whydah. Although these waxbills are difficult to breed, they have been known to hybridize with the following species (so take care when housing birds in mixed company to prevent cross-breeding): orange-cheeked waxbill, common waxbill, crimson-rumped waxbill, gold-breasted waxbill, and the fire finch.

Breeding season

In the wild, Black-rumped waxbills breed during the second half of the African rainy season. In captivity, they tend to breed during the warmer months.

Breeding tips

Flights at least 3 feet long are recommended, although better results may be obtained by using a large, well-planted aviary with plenty of flying space. The male's courtship dance includes holding some nesting material in the beak while bobbing up and down in front of a hen, his tail pointed toward her. The female may mimic this display, but she tends not to sing. Copulation takes place inside of the nest. Wild black-rumped waxbills build their nests directly on the ground or around the bases of bushes, and black-rumped waxbills in captivity will do the same in a well-planted aviary. In fact, these finches rarely accept nest boxes. The birds make use of grasses and coconut fiber to construct their nest, which includes a roosting chamber ("cock nest") on top or to the side. They may also line the inside of the nest with feathers and decorate the nest with white or dark and shiny objects (pieces of eggshell, dry excreta, bits of paper, shiny bits of wet earth). Often they will add more decorations to the cock nest than the brooding chamber; the cock nest probably functions as a "decoy" which might fool predators. Both parents share incubation duties. Chicks hatch with yellow skin and bluish down. Black-rumped waxbills require ample live food to successfully rear their young, as well as soaked seed and egg food. After the chicks fledge, the parents will lead them back to the nest each night for the first several nights; the parents will then roost away from the nest.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:3-6 eggs
Hatch date:After 11-12 days of incubation
Fledge date:At 21 days of age

Related Article(s)

If you own this species and would like to write an article about your experiences with them for this page, please submit your article for possible inclusion on this site. Credit will be given to you!

Black-rumped (Red-eared) Waxbills

Has this article helped you? Please consider making a donation to keep online and growing!

Disclaimer: As the creator of, I take no responsibility for any mishaps which you may experience in following any advice given, nor in purchasing any products suggested. I will therefore not be liable for any consequences that arise from following any advice provided in these pages.

External SiteExternal sites open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Proceeds will be used to help this site grow.

©2015 No part of this page (including, but not limited to pictures, articles, advice, logo, or otherwise) may be copied or retransmitted by any means without expressed written permission from the author/creator of this page.

This page is hosted by DreamHostExternal Site.

Styles: Former FIC | Art Deco | Spring | Magazine