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Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop)

Rooivink [Afrikaans]; Intakomlilo, Ucumse, Umlilo [Xhosa]; iBomvana, iNtakansinsi, isiGwe [Zulu]; Gomugeha [Kwangali]; Khube, Thaha-khube, Thaha-khubelu [South Sotho]; Thagalehlaka [North Sotho]; Chikenya [Shona]; MohubÍ, Thaga [Tswana]; Grenadierwever [Dutch]; Euplecte ignicolore [French]; Oryxweber [German]; Cardeal-tecel„o-vermelho [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 > Genus: Euplectes

Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop) Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop)

Southern red bishop male in breeding plumage, South Africa. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Southern red bishop male in transisitional plumage, Koeberg Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop) Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop)

Southern red bishop male in non-breeding plumage, Kalbaskraal, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

.Southern red bishop female, Koeberg Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Tanzania through Zambia and Angola to southern Africa, where it is especially common in Zimbabwe and South Africa. It generally prefers open grassland, marshes and cultivated areas, often near perennial water bodies. It is a major crop pest in the wheatlands of the Western Cape, where mist nets are used to keep them under control.

Distribution of Southern red bishop 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

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.


It mainly eats seeds and other plant matter, with invertebrates taking up only about 0.5% of its diet. It does most of its foraging in flocks, plucking food items from the ground and perching in vegetation. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • Zea mays (Maize)
      • Eragrostis curvula (Weeping lovegrass)
      • Setaria flabellate (Creeping setaria)
      • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
      • Eleusine indica (Goose grass)
      • Triticum (wheat)
    • flowers
      • Melinis repens (Natal redtop)
      • Leonotis (wild dagga)
      • Phragmites australis (Common reed)
  • Invertebrates


  • Polygynous, highly territorial colonial nester, as a successful male may mate with 3-8 females in a breeding season. It usually breeds in noisy colonies in reedbanks, with each male vigorously defending his territory against other males and Euplectes species.
Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop) Euplectes orix (Southern red bishop, Red bishop)

Southern red bishop males displaying. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

  • The male builds about 3-13 nests per breeding season, with each taking about 1-3 days to complete, tightly weaving thin strips of reeds and grass to form an oval-shaped structure with a side entrance covered by a hood. It is typically attached to reeds, sedges or bulrushes, or occasionally in crops such as maize.
  • Egg-laying season almost year-round, peaking from November-February.
  • It lays 1-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-13 days.
  • The chicks are fed by the female only, leaving the nest after about 11-15 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.