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Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver) 

Swartkeelgeelvink [Afrikaans]; Ihobo-hobo (generic term for weaver) [Xhosa]; iHlokohloko (generic term for weaver) [Zulu]; Kambara (generic term for weaver and also applied to Yellow-crowned bishop) [Kwangali]; Letolopje, Thaha (also applied to Cape weaver) [South Sotho]; Jesa (generic name for weaver) [Shona]; Ndzheyana (generic term for weaver or quelea) [Tsonga]; Talê, Thaga, Thaga-talê [Tswana]; Maskerwever [Dutch]; Tisserin à tête rousse [French]; Maskenweber, Schwarzstirnweber [German]; Tecelão-de-máscara [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 velatus (Southern masked-weaver)  Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver)
Southern masked-weaver male, Leeu Gamka, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Southern masked weaver female, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver) Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver)
Southern masked-weaver in pre-breeding moult, Sericea, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Southern masked-weaver males. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across southern Africa even in arid areas, extending into Angola, Zambia and Malawi. It generally favours semi-arid scrub, open savanna, woodland edges, riverine thicket, farmland with scattered trees, alien tree plantations and gardens.

Distribution of Southern masked 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 (at different stages of development) has been recorded as prey of the following animals:

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.


It mainly eats seeds, fruit, insects and nectar, doing most of its foraging in small flocks, gleaning prey from leaves and branches, taking seeds from the ground and grass stems. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • Ulmus (elms)
      • Cosmos (cosmos)
      • Pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine)
    • fruit
      • Rhus pyroides (Common currant)
      • Prunus (Satsuma plum)
      • Viscum rotundifolium (mistletoe)
      • Ehretia rigida (Puzzle-bush)
    • flower parts
      • Prunus (peaches and apricots)
      • Rhigozum trichotomum (Driedoring)
      • Tagetes erecta (African marigold)
    • nectar
      • Aloe marlothii (Mountain aloe)
      • Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle)
      • Schotia brachypetala (Weeping boer-bean)
      • Eucalyptus sideroxylon (Red ironbark)
      • Hibiscus rose-sinensis (hibiscus)
      • alien plants
        • Grevillea robusta (Silky oak)
        • Phaedranthus buccinatoius (Mexican blood trumpet)
  • Insects
  • Human food
    • porridge
    • bread


  • Polygynous, as males may mate with up to about 12 females in a single breeding season, living in colonies with 1-9 males in total, while each female may often rear multiple broods per breeding season. It is much less aggressive in comparison to most other weavers, although it viciously attacks Diderick cuckoos if they enter its territory.
  • The nest (see images below) is built solely by the male, consisting of a kidney-shaped structure with a large entrance on the bottom, made of woven grass, palm leaves or reeds with a ceiling of leaves, such as Acacia and Eucalyptus. If the female accepts the nest she lines the interior with leaves, grass inflorescences and feathers. It has been recorded to build its nest at the following sites:
    • trees
      • Acacia
        • A. erubescens (Blue thorn)
        • A. karroo (Sweet thorn)
      • Combretum molle (Velvet bushwillow)
      • Rhus quartiniana (Bicoloured karee)
      • Phoenix reclinata (Wild date palm)
      • alien plants
        • Prosopis (mesquite)
        • Pinus (pines)
        • Eucalyptus
        • Salix (willows)
    • reedbeds
    • barbed wire fences
Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver)  Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver)
Southern masked weaver male at nest, Leeuwfontein Estate, Roodeplaat Dam, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Southern masked weaver female inspecting a nest, South Africa. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Ploceus velatus (Southern masked-weaver) 
Southern masked-weaver male flying from its nest, Thabazimbi, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Southern masked-weaver displaying, Sericea, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from July-March, peaking from September-February.
  • It lays 1-6, usually 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by the female only on a diet of soft insect larvae and grasshoppers, leaving the nest after about 16-17 days.


Not threatened, in fact it has adapted well to the introduction of man-made habitats, using Eucalyptus and other alien trees in areas which were previously barren (such as the Namib Desert).


  • 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.