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Species Guide
A photo of a Village Indigobird (Vidua chalybeata), male
Village Indigobird, Male

Village Indigobird

Vidua chalybeata

The Village Indigobird, Vidua chalybeata, also known as the Steelblue Widowfinch or Combassou Finch in U.S. aviculture, is a diminutive songbird of the family Viduidae. It is characterized by its bill and leg colors, the hue of the male's breeding plumage, its distinctive song, and the nestling's plumage and mouth pattern.

Identification Tips

Males can be identified by their greenish-black or bluish-black plumage, contrasted with orange-red legs and a conical white bill. Females and immatures resemble a female house sparrow with streaked brown upperparts and buff underparts, but with red legs and a yellowish bill for the female. The presence of a whitish supercilium is noted in females.


This species thrives in a variety of open habitats, including open woodland, scrub, and cultivation. True to its name, it is often observed in proximity to human settlements.


The Village Indigobird is a resident breeder across much of Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.


Males are territorial and engage in an elaborate courtship flight display. Their song, performed from a high perch, is a mix of rapid sputtering and churring with mimicry of the Red-billed Firefinch's song, including the distinctive "chick-pea-pea-pea."

Song & Calls

The Village Indigobird's song is a unique combination of its own rapid notes and the mimicked song of the Red-billed Firefinch.


This species is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of Red-billed Firefinches without harming the host's eggs. The indigobird's eggs are white, slightly larger than those of the host, and the nestling indigobirds mimic the gape pattern of the host's fledglings.

Similar Species

While many indigobirds appear similar, especially the males, the Village Indigobird can be distinguished by its association with the Red-billed Firefinch and its tendency to be near human habitation.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of seeds and grains.

Conservation status

The Village Indigobird is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.


There are six recognized races of the Village Indigobird, each with slight variations in plumage and bill color. These include the nominate race V. c. chalybeata with green to blue-toned males and white bills, and the V. c. amauropteryx with red-billed, blue-hued males, among others.

Village Indigobird Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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