Tag Archives: Violet-eared waxbill

Swee Waxbills at Kirstenbosch

When we lived in Namibia we were fortunate enough to come across a number of different kinds of waxbills and were always delighted when the colourful Blue and Violet-eared waxbills came to feed in our garden.  We don’t see enough of these sweet little birds in our garden here in Durban for some strange reason, so imagine how pleased we were to have a chance to photograph Swee waxbills (Coccopygia melanotis) during our visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town in December.  We also saw Common waxbills whilst we were there, but, as their name suggests, they are fairly common, so our focus was on the Swees.

Swee waxbill

We followed a happy pair flitting about in the flowers, calling to each other with gentle ‘swee swee‘ sounds.  They are easy to tell apart as the male’s cheeks and ear coverts are black, whilst the female has a pale grey face.  Both have reddish orange tail markings and distinctive black upper and red lower mandibles.

Swee waxbill Swee waxbill

They are mainly seed-eaters, but also forage on the ground or on plant stems for small insects and larvae.  They’re mainly found in small groups or pairs, which are monogamous and territorial.  When they are ready to breed (between October and April) the building of the nest is a team effort, with the male bringing in the material.  According to Roberts Birds of S A, larger clutches of eggs are sometimes laid by two different males (between three and nine eggs) at one day intervals.  Both parents are involved in the incubation and the feeding.

Swee waxbill

It certainly was a treat to see these lovely little birds in such a nice setting and to be able to add a few more photos to our collection.

Nature Painted Me Beautiful

Sometimes words aren’t necessary – Nature can do the talking for itself.  These beautifully coloured birds were spotted in the Caprivi region of Namibia and in northern and central Botswana during the months of August/September 2012.  Enjoy Nature’s amazing palette presented by her feathered friends.  First off  a Violet-eared waxbill.

Violet-eared waxbill

Common waxbill

Common waxbill

Orange-breasted bush shrike

Orange-breasted bush shriike

Bee-eaters are always stunning.  Here’s a bevy of Carmine bee-eaters

Carmine bee-eaters

White-fronted bee-eaters also have striking colours

White-fronted bee-eaters

Greater blue-eared starling

Greater blue-eared starling

A striking Black crake

Black crake

It’s sights like these that keep the binoculars and cameras busy all the time and being able to feast our eyes on these magnificent birds is very special indeed.

Bird of the week – Week 25 : Violet-eared waxbill

A grenadier may be an infantryman equipped with grenades, as in the familiar Grenadier Guards in the British Army. Or a grenadier may be a fish with a large head and body and long tapering tail. Or it may be a common name for any member of the waxbill family of small birds. Thus the Violet-eared waxbill, one of the most colourful and beautiful of the waxbills, is also known as a Common grenadier. The waxbills are also known as Cordonbleus, but a bird by any other name…
The Violet-eared waxbill is a small bird with a length of about 14 cm, and although the males and females are the same size, the female is paler and less brightly coloured than the male. With its violet cheeks, red bill, rump and forehead of blue, and deep chestnut body, the male is gorgeous and is, as a result, quite highly prized as a cage bird in some parts of the world.
It is locally quite common in the drier parts of Southern Africa and also further north into Angola and Zambia, especially in those areas with acacia thickets and riverine bush; also in cultivated fields, where they forage on the ground, feeding mainly on seeds and insects. They often forage in the deep shadow of dense bushes or thickets.
Violet-eared waxbills are usually to be found as solitary birds, in pairs or in small groups and are often found in the company of Blue waxbills.
The call of the Violet-eared waxbill is a repeated tiu-woo-wee and it also has a song not unlike a canary twittering. The nest is a ball of dry grass stems, with a side entrance and is often lined with feathers. The female usually lays 4 or 5 eggs that hatch in about 12 days. It is sometimes parasitised by the Shaft-tailed whydah (Vidua regia).
The scientific name of the Violet-eared waxbill is Granatina granatina; granatina from the Latin for a garnet, a reference to the birds purple cheeks and ear-coverts. And repeated for emphasis!