Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus)


French: Tisserin à tête noire German: Schwarzkopfweber Spanish: Tejedor cabecinegro

Loxia melanocephala


, 1758,



May hybridize with P. castanops in Uganda; both sight records and specimens of probable hybrids exist, and hybrid was previously described as a separate species, P. victoriae. Has hybridized with P. taeniopterus in NE DRCongo. Proposed race fischeri (described from Mwanza, in NW Tanzania) synonymized with dimidiatus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. melanocephalus (Linnaeus, 1758) – S Mauritania, N & SW Senegal, Gambia, S Mali and SW Niger.
  • P. m. capitalis (Latham, 1790) – W Guinea-Bissau, E Guinea, Burkina Faso, NE Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria (on major rivers), N Cameroon, SW Chad and N Central African Republic.
  • P. m. dimidiatus (Antinori & Salvadori, 1873) – SE Sudan and W Eritrea S to NE DRCongo, Uganda, SW Kenya and NW Tanzania.
  • P. m. duboisi Hartlaub, 1886 – E Congo, S Central African Republic, SW South Sudan, N, C & SE DRCongo and N Zambia.
  • Introduced in Iberian Peninsula#R.

    Descriptive notes

    14 cm; male 20·1-25 g and female 17–21·2 g (capitalis), male 21–36·3 g and female 19·9-27·5 g (dimidiatus).... read more


    Song a mixture of wheezing, grating and creaking sounds; short form "squeee-ki-kee", used... read more


    Damp areas with tall grass near rivers or standing water, also reedbeds and papyrus (Cyperus... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds and insects; young fed largely with insects. Uses prying actions of the bill when foraging. Forms flocks in non-breeding season.


    Breeds May–Oct in Mauritania, Apr–Nov in Senegal, Jun–Sept in Gambia, Jul–Oct in Mali, Aug–Oct in Burkina... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common over much of range. More or less confined to rivers and similar wetlands. There are introduced, self-sustaining populations in Portugal and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. & de Juana, E. (2020). Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).