Ortygospiza is a genus of the estrildid finches. These birds are 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.
1-4 species are usually recognized:
- Red-billed Quailfinch or Black-chinned Quailfinch, Ortygospiza gabonensis
- Spectacled Quailfinch or White-chinned Quailfinch, Ortygospiza (gabonensis) fuscocrissa
- (West) African Quailfinch, Ortygospiza atricollis
- Locustfinch, Ortygospiza locustella - sometimes separated in Paludipasser
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 of 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. fulvocrissa, but this is not supported by the other data. In conclusion, either O. gabonensis should be merged back into O. atricollis, or O. fulvocrissa 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.