General Information

The Purple Grenadier is a common finch of eastern Africa.  They occur in small family groups and loose flocks, but separate off into pairs during the breeding season.

Physical Description

On average, a Purple Grenadier is 5.25 inches in length and weighs approximately 15 – 16 g.  The male is of a generally violet-blue color with a cinnamon colored head and a red bill.  There are blue patches around its eyes.  The female is smaller and mostly light brown, with silvery markings around its eyes.  Juveniles appear similar to females, but are of a mostly unbarred tawny-brown, and have a reddish-brown bill. 



These birds feed on small seeds of grasses and small herbaceous plants.


The Purple Grenadier’s range encompasses Ethiopia, southern Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Eastern Tanzania, and northeastern Uganda.  It is found in dry grassland, thorn scrub, and open forests.  In Kenya, it is considered predominantly a bird of the highlands, being mostly absent from arid desert and coastal regions.  Nests are usually built by the male, made of grass stems and panicles, and generally located in low bushes or trees.


The female lays a clutch of 3 – 5 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for a period of about 13 days.  The young are initially fed termites and green seeds, but graduate to ripe seeds later on.  Hatchlings fledge the nest after 20 days. The Purple Grenadier is a common victim of brood parasitism from the Straw-tailed Whydah (Vidua fischeri).

Purple Grenadier

Scientific Name

Uraeginthus ianthinogaster

Least Concern

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Estrildidae
Genus: Uraeginthus
Species: U. ianthinogaster