Raising the brown twinspot


The Brown Twinspot (also known as "Monteiro's Twinspot") is uncommon in the US and is seldom available to aviculturists, so I jumped at the chance to own some when they appeared on an importer's list several years ago. At that time, I immediately purchased three pair (later purchasing the rest of the dealer's stock), which were then released into separate 6' x 4' x 6 high indoor flights that had been heavily planted.


The Twinspots are a group of medium to large sized waxbills who take their name from the 'paired' white spots, one on either side of the shaft of the feather, on the sides of the lower breast and flanks: sometimes also elsewhere. 1 Currently they are distributed among four genera. The genus Hypargos contains the Peters Twinspot and the Rosy Twinspot; the genus Euchistospiza consists of the Dusky Twinspot and the Dybowsk's Twinspot, the genus Mandingoa includes the Green Twinspot while the genus C/ytospiza consists of the Brown Twinspot.

Brown Twinspots are 13cm (5") in length and are found in the grassland scrub country over much of Africa, south of the Sahara.

Male: Entire head slate-grey; nape, mantle, back and wings are dark brown, rump and upper tail coverts are a reddish orange; the tail is blackish brown; sides of the neck are slate-grey; chin and throat are red, the breast, belly and rest of underparts are chestnutbrown, spotted and barred with white. The legs and feet are brown. The long bill in both sexes is a greyish blue-black.

Female: Same as male except for a white throat, underparts are slightly paler.

Juvenile: Young that have just left the nest lack the throat coloring, and are more subdued in color. The white spots start appearing about ten days after leaving the nest.

Nestlings: Have dark skin and pale down. Their mouth markings consist of five black spots on the yellow palate, a black band, narrowing centrally across the flesh colored tongue and a black crescent inside the lower mandible.1 The yellow and white gape flanges (with a black spot inside of the gape) are very evident, especially when the chicks first leave the nest.

 Calls, Courtship, and Mating


The 'close' contact call has been described by Goodwin1 as a repeated "vay-vay-vay ... " which is intensified and uttered in a longer series as a 'distant' contact call. They also will utter a rather 'hoarse' guttural call of "tic" or "tee" while hidden in the brush. Recently fledged young will also cry out with a loud "Eck-Eck-Eck", which is probably a contact call to let their parents know where they are.

Courtship has been described by Goodwin1 as being similar to that of the Peters' Twinspot, except the movements are jerkier and less graceful.

In the wild, they have been reported to use the nests of other birds, as well as building a domed, loosely built grass nest which is often found in the forks of trees. 2 In captivity they will use a large bamboo finch basket, either on the floor of the cage or at various heights in the corners. Mine seem to alternate between a basket on the floor and one in the upper left hand corner of the cage.

A normal clutch is 3 to 5 white eggs. Incubation period is 12 to 13 days. Incubation is shared by both the cock and hen. The parent birds cease to brood the chicks when they are approximately ten days old, especially if the weather is warm at the time or they are housed in a warm bird room. The young fledge at about 21 days. Young in captivity return to the nest to roost for some nights after fledging.




Goodwin, Derek, Estrildid Finches of the World, 1982, Cornell University Press (ISBN-0-8014-1433-4))

Avicultural Research Unit, African Finches in Field & Aviary-A Guide to a Mixed Collection, 1997, African Bird Book Publishing (ISBN O 620 21438 4)

Robin L. Restall, Finches and Other Seed-eating Birds, 1975 - Faber and Faber (ISBN O 571 10353 7)

Harry Bryant is the 2nd VP/Editor/Webmaster of the National Finch & Softbill Society (www.nfss.org) and has been a member of the AFA for over twenty years. He has specialized in keeping and breeding exotic finches for over twenty-five years. He can be reached at utuweb@aol.com •