home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Spermestes cucullatus (Bronze mannikin) 

Gewone fret [Afrikaans]; Ingxenge, Ungxenge [Xhosa]; Zadzasaga [Shona]; Rijajani (generic term for mannikin) [Tsonga]; Gewoon ekstertje [Dutch]; Capucin nonnette [French]; Kleinelsterchen [German]; Freirinha-bronzeada [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Estrildidae

Spermestes cucullatus (Bronze mannikin)  Spermestes cucullatus (Bronze mannikin) 

Bronze mannikin. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]

Bronze mannikin, Uganda. [photo Kristian Svensson ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia south to southern Africa. Here it is very common in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and eastern South Africa, while more scarce in northern and south-eastern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip (Namibia). It generally prefers grassy habitats with a few scattered bushes and trees, such as edges of thickets or evergreen forest, savanna, suburban gardens and the border between natural vegetation and cultivated land.

Distribution of Bronze mannikin in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Predators and parasites

It (at different stages of development) has been recorded as prey of the following animals:


It mainly eats grass seeds supplemented with with insects, doing most of its foraging on the ground, often taking advantage of feeding trays. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Seeds
    • grass
      • Eleusine coracana (African millet grass)
      • Sporobolus pyramidalus (Catstail grass)
      • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
      • Setaria
        • S. homonyma (Fan-leaved bristle grass)
        • S. sphacelata (Twisted-leaf bristle grass)
        • S. pallide-fusca (Garden bristle grass)
      • Echinochloa pyramidalis (Limpopo grass)
      • Brachiaria nigropedata (Spotted signal grass)
      • Paspalum urvillei (Vasey grass)
      • Melinis repens (Natal red top)
      • Melinis nerviglumus (Bristle-leaved red top)
      • Hyperthelia dissoluta (Yellow thatching grass)
      • Cynodon dactylon (Couch grass)
      • Poa annua (Annual bluegrass)
    • Bidens pilosa (Common blackjack)
  • Arthropods


  • The male gathers material used by the female to build the nest, which consists of an untidy ball-shaped structure, usually made of green grass inflorescences but sometimes incorporating pine (Pinus) needles and wild Asparagus stems. It is typically placed in a bush, tree or man-made structure, such as a post or beam of a building.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-May, peaking from November-April.
  • It lays 2-8 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12-16 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of mainly seeds, leaving the nest after about 15-21 days and becoming fully independent roughly 4 weeks later.


Not threatened, in fact it has adapted well to the modification of habitats by man.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.