Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Dark-backed Weaver (Ploceus bicolor)


French: Tisserin bicolore German: Waldweber Spanish: Tejedor bicolor

Ploceus bicolor


, 1819,

Senegal; error = South Africa


Race stictifrons intergrades with nominate in S Mozambique–NE South Africa. Numerous races have been described, based chiefly on minor differences in coloration: thus, proposed race analogus (described from Jele, in Cameroon) is synonymized with tephronotus, albidigularis (from N Angola) with amaurocephalus, and sylvanus (from E Zimbabwe highlands) with stictifrons; and, in South Africa, lebomboensis (from extreme N KwaZulu-Natal) and sclateri (from R Mkuze E of Ubombo, in NE KwaZulu-Natal) likewise treated as synonyms of stictifrons, and pondoensis (from St John’s, in NE Eastern Cape) regarded as synonym of nominate. Critical assessment of these apparently fragmented populations is required. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. b. tephronotus (Reichenow, 1892) – SE Nigeria (Obudu Plateau), Cameroon, Bioko, Gabon and W Congo.
  • P. b. amaurocephalus (Cabanis, 1880) – W & NE Angola and S DRCongo (Kasai region).
  • P. b. mentalis (Hartlaub, 1891) – S South Sudan, NE DRCongo, Uganda and W Kenya.
  • P. b. kigomaensis (C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1956) – W Rwanda, Burundi, E & SE DRCongo, Zambia and extreme SW Tanzania.
  • P. b. kersteni (Hartlaub & Finsch, 1870) – S Somalia, coastal Kenya, E Tanzania (S to R Rufiji) and Zanzibar.
  • P. b. stictifrons (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1885) – coastal Tanzania (S from Kilwa), S Malawi, E Zimbabwe and Mozambique S to NE South Africa (N KwaZulu-Natal).
  • P. b. bicolor Vieillot, 1819 – S Mozambique S to S South Africa (Eastern Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 28–47 g. Nominate race has forehead, crown and nape to back dark purplish-brown, rump dark brown with yellow fringes on some feathers; upperwing and... read more


    Song, by both sexes, throughout year, comprises several musical notes, punctuated with creaking... read more


    Forested areas with evergreen or deciduous vegetation, including montane forest patches, riverine... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly arthropods; stomach contents included spiders (Araneae), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), cockroaches (Blattodea), beetles (... read more


    Breeds Nov–Dec on Bioko, Dec–Jan in Cameroon; in DRCongo, Feb–May and Sept–Dec in S and Jan–Feb in Itombwe;... read more


    Considered resident. Eight ringed birds recaptured at ringing site up to 4 years after ringing.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and locally common to fairly common. Population in C & S Mozambique estimated to number more than 20,000 individuals. Not common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. (2020). Dark-backed Weaver (Ploceus bicolor). 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 28 February 2020).