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Bird of the month: Red-winged Pytilia

My Magazine 2022/08
1 min
These small birds can grow up to 13 cm tall and belong to the family of estrildids, quite an extensive family of birds, similar in their physical appearance, which the colour of the feathers can primarily distinguish. Specifically, the genus of pytilias is known for its red rumps and tails. Red-winged pytilia or Pytilia phoenicoptera can be differentiated by their red feathers on the wings.

There are at least 11 species of estrildids present in The Gambia; most of them, like Red-winged pytilia, are residents. They all have short, conical bills, and they feed on seeds, some of them also on insects. They are generally not migratory birds, but some species tend to do local movements in dry areas.

Red-winged pytilias can be found in trees and bushes all over the country, but their feeding takes place on the ground. They are easier to spot in the wet season, singly, in pairs or smaller groups, even mixed-species flocks in the open wooded savanna, scrubs and grassland or bushier and grassy edges of farmland.

Their whole body is grey, apart from red parts and underbelly, which is grey and white. Female and juveniles are browner on otherwise grey parts and duller. Their grey-black bill is more slender compared to other species in the family.

Photo Credits: Mark Goddard

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Trip of the month: Bakau

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