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the web of life in southern Africa

Ploceus subaureus (Yellow weaver) 

Geelwewer [Afrikaans]; Intletlekwane [Xhosa]; Goudwever [Dutch]; Tisserin jaune [French]; Kleiner goldweber [German]; Tecel„o-amarelo [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: Ploceus

Ploceus subaureus (Yellow weaver)  Ploceus subaureus (Yellow weaver) 

Yellow weaver stripping material for its nest. [photo Gerhard Theron ©]

Yellow weaver, Mtunzini, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Kenya through Tanzania to Malawi and Mozambique, extending down the east coast to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. It generally prefers river flood plains, coastal plains, estuaries and lowland river valleys, but it is mainly restricted to reedbeds and adjacent riverine vegetation while breeding.

Distribution of Yellow 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.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.


It mainly eats seeds, insects and nectar, foraging on the ground and in vegetation, occasionally hawking termite alates aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
    • flower anthers of Nicotania glauca (Wild tobacco)
    • nectar
      • Erythrina caffra (Coast coral-tree)
      • Aloe barberae (Eastern tree aloe)
  • Insects


  • Probably polygynous colonial nester, with about 10-20, rarely 50 nests per colony, sometimes breeding alongside Southern brown-throated (Ploceus xanthopterus) and Thick-billed weavers (Amblyospiza albifrons).
  • Each male builds multiple circular nests (see image below) which lack an entrance tunnel, woven from grass stems and lined by the female with softer grass. It is typically attached to one, sometimes two reed stems about 1-2 meters above water, although it may occasionally use trees instead.
Ploceus subaureus (Yellow weaver)  

Yellow weaver at its nest, Kidd's Beach, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from about September-February, peaking from September-December.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female.
  • The chicks are fed on a diet of mainly insects, leaving the nest after about 19-22 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.