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Black-headed weaver

Scientific Name: Ploceus cucullatus

Black-headed weavers are medium-sized members of the weaver family found through much of western, central and eastern Africa. Breeding males have black heads with bright yellow and orange across much of the rest of the body. Females and non-breeding males have olive-green and yellow feathers with dark brown across the rump and tail.

Weavers get their name from the intricate basket nest that the males weave in trees. Black-headed weavers are a colony species with up to 200 nests in a single tree. These colonies are frequently seen in urban and village locations.

Males will use their nests as a way to advertise themselves to females. Having judged the male on his woven nest, the female will then line it with feathers, grass and leaves. Incubation of the eggs and the feeding of the chicks is also carried out by the female. Once the chicks have fledged, males will destroy the nests. Abandoned nests are often used by other bird species such as the cut-throat finch or other animals such as snakes and bats.

Seeds and insects make up the majority of the village weaver diet. Chicks are fed on insects until fledging. They will also eat a small amount of fruit.

Black-headed weavers are one of the most common weaver species in Africa. Their numbers are high in the majority of their range. However, they are also a common species used in African traditional medicines.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Distribution: Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Western Africa
  • Habitat: Savannah, Urban Areas
  • Diet: Fruit, Insects, Seeds
  • Height: 17cm
  • Weight: 35 – 45g
  • No. of young: 2 – 4
  • Life Span: 15 years