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Anomalospiza imberbis

The Cuckoo-finch, Anomalospiza imberbis, also known as the parasitic weaver or cuckoo weaver, is a diminutive passerine that graces the grasslands of Africa south of the Sahara. The male of the species is adorned in a vibrant yellow and green plumage, while the female is cloaked in a more subdued buff with dark streaks. This bird is known for its unique reproductive strategy, laying its eggs in the nests of other avian species.

Identification Tips

Adult males can be identified by their black bills, yellow heads, and underparts, with olive-green upperparts marked by black streaks. The females are less conspicuous, with heavy black streaking above, light streaks on the flanks, and a largely plain buff face with a buff-white throat. Both sexes are approximately 11-13 cm in length, with short tails, robust legs and feet, and a large, deep, conical bill.


The Cuckoo-finch is found in open or lightly wooded grasslands, often with a preference for areas that are near damp environments.


This species has a scattered distribution across sub-Saharan Africa, with populations in West Africa, East Africa, and southern Africa, including countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, and Eswatini.


Cuckoo-finches are typically seen in pairs or small flocks during the breeding season and gather in larger flocks when not breeding. They forage on the ground or perched atop grasses or herbs, feeding mainly on grass seeds.

Song & Calls

The species is known for its chattering calls and the males exhibit a nasal song during display.


The Cuckoo-finch is an obligate brood parasite, relying on the nests of cisticolas and prinias to lay its eggs. The eggs vary in color from white to pale blue or pink, adorned with brown, reddish, or violet markings. After a 14-day incubation period, the young fledge in 18 days and remain dependent on their hosts for an additional 10-40 days.

Similar Species

While there are no specific similar species mentioned, the Cuckoo-finch can be distinguished from other finches by its parasitic breeding behavior and its association with the indigobirds and whydahs.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Cuckoo-finch consists mainly of grass seeds, which they pick from the ground or directly from plant heads.

Conservation status

The Cuckoo-finch is classified as Least Concern by BirdLife International, indicating a large range and a stable population.

Cuckoo-finch Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Cuckoo-finches on Birda


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Village Indigobird

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