Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Cardinal Quelea (Quelea cardinalis)


French: Travailleur cardinal German: Kardinalweber Spanish: Quelea cardenal

Hyphantica cardinalis


, 1880,

Lado, Sudan


Sometimes placed with Q. erythrops in a separate genus, Queleopsis. Proposed race rhodesiae (described from E Zambia) alleged to have brown on nape more extensive, but individual variation occurs throughout species’ range. Treated as monotypic.


S South Sudan, NE DRCongo, Uganda, W Kenya, Rwanda and NW & N Tanzania S to E Zambia and, rare, C Malawi; rare non-breeding visitor to S Ethiopia.

Descriptive notes

11 cm; 11–15 g. Small, short-tailed weaver. Male breeding has bright red head down to throat and to variable extent onto breast; nape and upperparts light brown with... read more


Song a repetition of buzzes or sizzles introduced by sharp notes, terminating in nasal whistle,... read more


Rank grass and wooded grassland, generally in dry areas. Recorded at altitudes of 400–3000 m... read more

Food and feeding

Diet primarily seeds of grasses such as Panicum and Setaria; seen to take nectar from Leonotis nepetifolia.... read more


Breeds Aug–Sept in DRCongo, Mar–Jul in Uganda and Kenya, Feb–May in Tanzania and Feb in Zambia. Polygynous. Colonial, in... read more


Flocks appear in many areas after rain, but may move on without breeding; not clear if seasonal... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally abundant. A pest of agricultural crops in some parts of E Africa.

Recommended citation

Craig, A. (2020). Cardinal Quelea (Quelea cardinalis). 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 18 February 2020).