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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Subsectio: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Infraclassis: Aves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Infraordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Passeroidea

Familia: Estrildidae
Genus: Ortygospiza
Species: O. atricollis - O. fuscocrissa - O. gabonensis - O. locustella

Ortygospiza Sundevall, 1850

The quailfinch (Ortygospiza atricollis) is a species of the estrildid finch. It is found in open grasslands in Africa. They are gregarious seed-eaters with short, thick, red bills. They are very terrestrial, with lark-like feet and claws.


Previously, three species were recognized, but are now considered subspecies:

Black-chinned quailfinch, Ortygospiza atricollis gabonensis
African quailfinch, Ortygospiza atricollis fuscocrissa
Black-faced quailfinch, Ortygospiza atricollis atricollis

The locust finch, Paludipasser locustella, is considered a member of this genus by some taxonomists.

Two issues are contentious: First, whether the locustfinch should be included here or given its own monotypic genus. Second, the "African quailfinch" complex might comprise one or three species. The two-species arrangement as found in most field guides and used by the IUCN, was recently shown to be based only on a single character (the color of the chin and throat). It is certainly erroneous, being contradicted by all other morphological, behavioral and DNA sequence data.

The molecular data would support a two-species arrangement with the taxa O. atricollis and O. fuscocrissa, but this is not supported by the other data. In conclusion, either O. gabonensis should be merged back into O. atricollis, or O. fuscocrissa should be restored to species status. Gene flow in the "African quailfinch" complex is still ongoing, and the three lineages therein either form a superspecies, or can be considered a single, wide-ranging and very variable species.[1]

Payne & Sorenson (2007)

Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan & Davis, John (1993): Finches and Sparrows: an identification guide. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-8017-2
Payne, Robert B. & Sorenson, Michael D. (2007): Integrative systematics at the species level: plumage, songs and molecular phylogeny of quailfinches Ortygospiza. Bull. B.O.C. 127(1): 4-26. PDF fulltext

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