Ploceidae (weavers, widowbirds, queleas…)

Number of genera: 14
Number of species: 123
Number of species completed: 29
In French: page des tisserins, euplectes, travailleurs en Français

Euplectes_ardens_main1.JPGThis large family is originally widespread in the Afro-tropical and Southern Asia, now seen locally (introduced) elsewhere, including North Africa, Europe and the Americas.

It is related to the monotypic family Urocynchramidae (Przevalski’s Finch), Viduidae (indigobirds and whydahs) and Estrildidae (waxbills).

A detailed legend of abbreviations and acronyms is found at the bottom of the page.

Amblyospiza_albifrons_fam1.JPGGenus Amblyospiza – 1 species

This genus is significantly different from other weavers. John Boyd places it as basal to all weavers. It might deserve its own family. Similarity of nest building with Compact Weaver (Ploceus or Pachyphantes, see below) is interesting and suggest a possible a closer relationship between those two.

It is endemic to Africa, south of the Sahara. It can be locally very common but, actually, it is patchily distributed.

* Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons, photo above

Sporopipes_frontalis_fam1Genus Sporopipes – 2 species

Species of this genus superficially look like waxbills (Estrildidae) but their behaviour, including nest building, as well and genetics, confirm relationship with next 4 genera.

This genus is composed of two small species restricted to Africa, south of the Sahara.

* Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis, photo above
Scaly-feathered Weaver Sporopipes squamifrons – NA

Pseudonigrita_arnaudi_fam1.JPGGenera Philetarius + Pseudonigrita – 3 sp

Those 3 species species are closely related and might be merged in one genus, as does John Boyd.  They are part of a clade with Sporopipes, Histurgops and Plocepasser.

The “true” Philetarius is restricted to South-West Africa, while both Pseudonigrita live only in Eastern Africa.

Sociable Weaver Philetairus socius – NA
* Grey-capped Social-Weaver Pseudonigrita arnaudi, photo above
* Black-capped Social-Weaver Pseudonigrita cabanisi

Histurgops_ruficauda_fam1.jpgGenus Histurgops – 1 species

The only species of the genus is very distinct from all other weavers in plumage, although there’s some similarities in behaviour with Plocepasser (sparrow-weavers, see next genus) to which it is related.

It exists mainly in Tanzania and very marginally in Southern Kenya.

* Rufous-tailed Weaver Histurgops ruficauda, photo above

Plocepasser_donaldsoni_fam1.JPGGenus Plocepasser – 4 species

This genus groups unusual birds among the weavers, and they don’t weave, hence the former classification with sparrows. The English name recall the superficial similarity with sparrows indeed.. They are related to Histurgops and social-weavers.

They are restricted to Africa south of the Sahara, in most regions, but avoid the forest zone.

* White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus – NA
Donaldson Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni – NA, photo above
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser rufoscapulatus – NA

Dinemellia_dinemelli_fam1.JPGGenus Dinemellia – 1 species

This is a very atypical weaver in size, shape and pattern, mostly related to Bubalornis. Behaviour is somehow similar but plumage and shape fairly different. They can be seen together in mixed species feeding groups.

The only species is restricted to Eastern Africa where is is common and easily seen in vast savannas protected in national parks.

* White-headed Buffalo-Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli, photos above and bottom

Bubalornis_albirostris_fam1Genus Bubalornis – 2 species

Those very big weavers are unusual and only closely related to Dinemellia. They are large and long-tailed.

Their range is restricted to Africa south of the Sahara, away from the forest zone. They live in dry savannas, especially those which hold larger mammals ; therefore, they can be easily seen in many national parks.

White-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis albirostris – NA
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger – NA, photo above

Ploceus_philippinus_fam1.JPGGenus Ploceus – 67 species

As it is presented here, this genus is widespread with a few species in Asia and many species in Africa. However, it seems to be non-monophyletic and might be separated in 4 genera in a near future, either in new ones (names available given below), either grouped with an existing genus, namely Malimbus.

True Ploceus are actually Asians and limited to the 5 following species.

Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus – NA
Black-breasted Weaver Ploceus benghalensis – NA
Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar – NA
* Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus, photo above
Finn’s Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus – ON REQUEST, VULNERABLE

Ploceus_weynsi_fam1.JPGMost African yellow weavers might be separated in their own genus as they are fairly distantly related to Asian Ploceus. We still use Ploceus here, but will probably have to change soon and a name is available for them, this is Textor.

Many of them are widespread but several are rare, localised, sometimes endemic and/or threatened species.

In case of split, Textor would become the largest genus among the family

* Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht
Bannerman’s Weaver Ploceus bannermani – SPECIAL T., VULNERABLE
Bates’s Weaver Ploceus batesi – SPECIAL T., ENDA.ENDEM. (Cameroon)
Black-chinned Weaver Ploceus nigrimentus – NA
Bertram’s Weaver Ploceus bertrandi – NA
* Slender-billed Weaver Ploceus pelzelni
Loango Weaver Ploceus subpersonatus – SPECIAL T., VULNERABLE
Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis
Olive-naped Weaver Ploceus brachypterus – NA
* Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus – SPECIAL TARGET
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster – NA
Cape Weaver, Ploceus capensis – NA
Bocage’s Weaver, Ploceus temporalis – NA
African Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus – NA
* Holub’s Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
Orange Weaver Ploceus aurantius – ON REQUEST
Heuglin’s Masked Weaver Ploceus heuglini – NA
Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri – NA
* Taveta Weaver Ploceus castaneiceps
Principe Weaver Ploceus princeps – ON REQUEST, END. (Principe)
* Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops
Southern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus xanthopterus – NA
Kilombero Weaver Ploceus burnieri – ON REQUEST, VULN., END. (Tanzania)
Rüppell’s Weaver Ploceus galbula
Northern Masked Weaver Ploceus taeniopterus – NA
* Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus – NA
Katanga Masked Weaver Ploceus katangae – NA
Upemba Masked Weaver
Ploceus upembae – SPECIAL T., DATA DEF., ENDE. (D. R. Congo)
Lufira Masked Weaver Ploceus ruweti – SPECIAL T., DATA DEF., ENDE. (D. R. Congo)
Tanzanian Masked Weaver Ploceus reichardi – NA
Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus – NA
Speke’s Weaver Ploceus spekei – NA
Fox’s Weaver Ploceus spekeoidesSPECIAL TARGETENDEMIC (Uganda)
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Giant WeaverPloceus grandis – ON REQUEST, ENDEMIC (Sao Tome)
Vieillot’s Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus
Chestnut-and-black Weaver Ploceus castaneofuscus  NA
Weyns’s Weaver Ploceus weynsi – ON REQUEST, photo above
Clarke’s Weaver Ploceus golandi – SPECIAL TARGET, ENDANGEREDEND. (Kenya)
Juba Weaver Ploceus dichrocephalus – NA
* Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
* Golden-backed Weaver Ploceus jacksoni
Cinnamon Weaver Ploceus badius – NA
Chestnut Weaver Ploceus rubiginosus – NA

Ploceus_superciliosus_fam1.JPGThis unusual weaver might receive its own genus, Pachyphantes. In addition to his unique plumage, nest building recall Amblyospiza more than African Ploceus (or Textor).

It is localised in most regions of Africa, south of the Sahara.

Compact Weaver Ploceus superciliosus, photo above

Two endemic species of Madagascar might be separated in the genus Nelicurvius. They are probably intermediate between Asian Ploceus and African taxa.

Sakalava Weaver Ploceus sakalava – ON REQUEST, END. (Madagascar)
Nelicourvi Weaver Ploceus nelicourvi – ON REQUEST, END. (Madagascar)

Ploceus_bicolor_fam1.JPGThe following species are sometimes called “nuthatch-weavers” as they creeps on trunks and branches like Sittidae.  They might be grouped with Malimbus that creep also on trees but that show blacker plumage.

Most species are little known, rare, endemic and difficult to find. They live in forested zone of the tropical area of Africa ; only Dark-backed Weaver is widespread and fairly easy to see.

Golden-naped Weaver Ploceus aureonucha – SPECIAL T., ENDANGERED
Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor – NA
Maxwell’s Black Weaver Ploceus albinucha – NA
Dark-backed Weaver
 Ploceus bicolor – NA, photo above
Preuss’s Weaver Ploceus preussi – NA
Yellow-capped Weaver Ploceus dorsomaculatus – SPECIAL TARGET
Olive-headed Weaver Ploceus olivaceiceps – SPECIAL TARGET
Usambara Weaver Ploceus nicolli – SPECIAL T., ENDA.ENDE. (Tanzania)
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis – NA
Bar-winged Weaver Ploceus angolensis – NA
Sao Tome Weaver
 Ploceus sanctithomae – ON REQUEST, ENDE. (Sao Tome)
Yellow-legged Weaver Ploceus flavipes – SPECIAL T., VULN.ENDE. (D. R. Congo)

quelea_erythrops_fam1.JPGGenus Quelea – 3 species

This genus probably sister to Foudia and related to Euplectes and (at least some) Ploceus.

They are hugely colonial small seed-eaters that exist exclusively in Africa, south of the Sahara. The three species can be sympatic in some Eastern Africa countries such Uganda.

* Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops – NA, photo above
Cardinal Quelea Quelea cardinalis – NA

Genus Foudia – 7 species

This genus is related to Quelea and, more distantly, to (a least some) Ploceus and Euplectes.

It exist naturally only in Western Indian ocean and all but one species are endemic to an island or an archipelago.

There is currently no page published on this genus. You can ask us to publish several fodies in once, check out here.

Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis – NA
Comoros Fody Foudia eminentissima – ON REQUEST, ENDEMIC (Comores)
Aldabra Fody Foudia aldabrana – ON REQUEST, ENDANGERED, ENDEM. (Aldabra)
Forest Fody Foudia omissa – ON REQUEST, ENDEMIC (Madagascar)
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra – ON REQUEST, ENDANGERED, ENDEM. (Mauritius)
Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum – ON REQUEST, ENDEM. (Seychelles)
Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans – ON REQUEST, ENDEM. (Rodrigues)

Euplectes_axillaris_fam1Genus Euplectes – 19 species

Fairly distinct within the family, with colourful males and dull, almost all similar looking females and juveniles.

Only Bob-tailed Weaver is unlcear, often given a monotypic genus (Brachycope) or put within Quelea., suggestion that Quelea and Euplectes might be sister genera

This genus is composed of long-tailed species, called widowbirds, and short-tailed ones, called bishops. They exist naturally only in Africa, south of the Sahara. They are spectacular, and therefore some were introduced in other continents.

Bob-tailed Weaver Euplectes anomalus – NA
Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus – NA
Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus – NA
Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer – NA
* Black Bishop Euplectes gierowii
* Black-winged Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus
* Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus
* Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix
Zanzibar Red-Bishop Euplectes nigroventris – NA
Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens – NA, large photo on top
Red-cowled Widowbird Euplectes laticauda – NA
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis – NA
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus – NA
Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura – NA
Jackson’s Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni – NA
Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris – NA, photo above
Long-tailed Widowbird Euplectes progne – NA
Marsh Widowbird Euplectes hartlaubi – NA
Montane Widowbird Euplectes psammacromius – NA

Click here or on the photo to see a comparative image between three small red bishops: Northern and Southern Red Bishops and Black-winged, with some identification pointers.Euplectes_comparison_1light.JPG

Malimbus_rubricollis_fam1.JPGGenus Malimbus – 10 species

This genus is closely related to the next one (and might be merged) and probably Ploceus. The 13 “nuthatch-weavers” now included in that genus might actually be transferred in Malimbus.

All actual malimbes are restricted to the forest zone of Africa, from Southern Senegal to Angola and extreme Western Kenya and Tanzania.

Red-crowned Malimbe Malimbus coronatus – NA
Cassin’s Malimbe Malimbus cassini – NA
Rachel’s Malimbe Malimbus racheliae – NA
Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni – SPECIAL TARGET, ENDANGERED
Red-vented Malimbe Malimbus scutatus – NA
Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis – SPECIAL T., ENDAN. ENDEM. (Nigeria)
Blue-billed Malimbe Malimbus nitens – NA
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis – NA, photo above
Red-bellied Malimbe Malimbus erythrogaster – NA
Crested Malimbe Malimbus malimbicus – NA

Anaplectes_leconotos_fam1.JPGGenus Anaplectes – 3 species

This genus is so close to Malimbus that is is sometimes included in it. The three species listed below are sometimes lumped in one.

They are allospecies that, together, cover most of Africa south of the Sahara, away from the forest zone while Malimbes are all restricted to the forest.

* Northern Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes leuconotos, photo above
Southern Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps – NA
Red Weaver Anaplectes jubaensis – ON REQUEST

Click here or on the photo to see the comparative image between the two most similar species, Northern and Southern Red-headed Weaver, with some identification pointers.Anaplectes_comparison1light


NA: page not available. That bird is neither rare or a “star” and can be found easily. It will be published, but it doesn’t worth a special expedition on its own.


VULNERABLE (or VULN. if space is short): Red Data / Birdlife status.
ENDANGERED (or ENDAN. if space is short): Red Data / Birdlife status.
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (or CRIT.  if space is short): Red Data / Birdlife status.

ENDEMIC (ENDEM. if space is short): exist only in one country, one archipelago or one islands. That geographical unit is then given into brackets.


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