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File:Abyssinian Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza salvadorii) (male).jpg
A male Abyssinian Crimson-wing (Cryptospiza salvadorii)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Estrildidae
Genus: Cryptospiza
Salvadori, 1884
  • C. reichenovii
  • C. salvadorii
  • C. jacksoni
  • C. shelleyi

The crimson-wings (Cryptospiza) are a genus of small passerine birds belonging to the estrildid finch family Estrildidae. There are four species. They are found in parts of Africa, particularly the Albertine Rift; all four species occur there and two, Shelley's and Dusky Crimson-wings, are found nowhere else. They are secretive birds which mainly inhabit mountain forests with dense undergrowth. They usually forage on or near the ground, feeding mainly on seeds such as those of grasses and balsam.

They are 11–13 cm long with short wings and a short, rounded tail. The bill is thick and conical and either black or red. They all have a reddish back and rump and olive or grey underparts. Juvenile birds are duller than the adults.

Destruction and degradation of their forest habitat is a potential threat to the crimson-wings and Shelley's Crimson-wing is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

Species list[]

  • Red-faced Crimson-wing, Cryptospiza reichenovii
  • Abyssinian Crimson-wing, Cryptospiza salvadorii
  • Dusky Crimson-wing, Cryptospiza jacksoni
  • Shelley's Crimson-wing, Cryptospiza shelleyi


  • Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan & Davies, John (1993) Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide, Christopher Helm, London.
  • Sinclair, Ian & Ryan, Peter (2003) Birds of Africa south of the Sahara, Struik, Cape Town.

Eurasian Spoonbill This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
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