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Anaplectes melanotis (Red-headed weaver) 

[= Anaplectes rubriceps

Rooikopwewer [Afrikaans]; Ndzheyana ya nhloko ya ka phsuku [Tsonga]; Scharlaken wever [Dutch]; Tisserin écarlate [French]; Scharlachweber [German]; Tecelão-de-cabeça-vermelha [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Ploceidae

Anaplectes melanotis (Red-headed weaver)  Anaplectes melanotis (Red-headed weaver) 
Red-headed weaver male. [photo Lorinda Steenkamp ©] Red-headed weaver female, South Africa. [photo Andries Steenkamp ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland forests of West Africa and central DRC, from Senegal to Somalia south to southern Africa. Here it is uncommon to fairly common from north-eastern Namibia through northern and eastern Botswana to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers broad-leaved (especially miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, Acacia savanna,  bushveld and gardens, usually of farms.

Distribution of Red-headed weaver in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of the following animals:

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.


It mainly eats arthropods, supplemented with seeds and fruit, gleaning food from the foliage of trees, bushes and creepers. It also hawks insects aerially and plucks spiders from their webs, often joining mixed species foraging flocks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Arthropods
    • insects
    • spiders
      • Stegodyphus (social spiders)
  • Plants
    • seeds
    • fruit
      • Tapinanthus leendertziae (mistletoe)


  • Monogamous but sometimes polygynous, as one male may mate with multiple females within a colony.
  • The nest is built solely by the male, consisting of an upside-down bottle-shaped structure (i.e. an rough oval with a vertical entrance hole at the base) made of leaf midribs, twigs, grass stems, broad leaves and tendrils. Once it is approved by the female she lines the interior with bark fibres, feathers, dry grass or leaves. It is typically strung from a few twigs beneath the canopy of a tree, such as the Baobab (Adansonia digitata), but it also regularly uses man-made objects such as windmill vanes, telephone wires and edge of thatched roofs. It often nests in the vicinity of other weaver species or even raptors such the African hawk-eagle (Aquila spilogaster).
  • Egg-laying season is from July-February, peaking from September-November.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, usually 2-3 eggs, which are incubated mainly by the female for about 12-13 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both sexes but mostly the female, leaving the nest after roughly 17 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.