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Green-backed twinspot

Mandingoa nitidula

Photo by Fernando Domingues (Exotic Finches)

Common name:
green-backed twinspot (en); pintadinha-verde (pt); astrild vert pointillé (fr); estrilda verde (es); grüne tropfenastrild (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae

This species is patchily distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, from Guinea to Ethiopia and south to northern Angola, southern D.R. Congo, Mozambique and eastern South Africa.

These birds are 11 cm long and weigh 10-11 g.

The green-backed twinspot is found along the egdes of moits tropical forests, in wet grasslands, moist scrublands, arable land, and also exotic tree plantations.

They feed mainly on grass seeds, such as basket grass Oplismenus hirtellus, ribbon bristle grass Setaria chevalieri and forest hood grass Sacciolepis curvata, as well as stinging nettles such as Urera cameroonensis. They also take some small insects, such as aphids.

In South Africa, these birds breed in December-April. They are monogamous and can mate for life. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a bulk oval ball with a small entrance spout, made of grass stems, skeletonised leaves, rootlets, twigs and Usnea lichens. It is lined with feathers, fine grasses and other soft material, and typically concealed in the canopy of a tall tree. The female lays 4-6 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 17 days after hatching. They become fully independent 1 week later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range. The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be difficult to observe so it may be common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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