Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Marsh Widowbird (Euplectes hartlaubi)


French: Euplecte des marais German: Hartlaubweber Spanish: Obispo marismeño
Other common names: Hartlaub's Marsh Widowbird, Hartlaub's Widowbird

Penthetria hartlaubi


, 1878,

Caconda, Angola


Formerly considered by some authors to be conspecific with E. psammacromius, but molecular studies suggest that the two are not even sister taxa. Breeding males of race humeralis have much shorter tail than that of nominate (score 3 or 4), but no other differences apparent. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. h. humeralis (Sharpe, 1901) – Short-tailed Marsh Widowbird – extreme E Nigeria, C & S Cameroon, E Gabon, Congo, SW DRCongo (around R Congo), W & S Uganda and W Kenya.
  • E. h. hartlaubi (Bocage, 1878) – Long-tailed Marsh Widowbird – C & NE Angola, SE DRCongo, N Zambia and extreme W Tanzania (Ufipa region).
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm, breeding male 36 cm. Large widowbird, breeding male with very long tail. Male nominate race breeding is almost wholly black, with long black tail (mean length 17·7 cm... read more


    Song opens with short, rising notes such as "grrreeng", followed by high-pitched buzz or trill, "... read more


    Swampy grasslands and nearby cultivated areas; may venture out over deeper water in reeds, perching... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet grass seeds, insects and small fruit; grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and berries found in stomach contents. Forages usually in small groups... read more


    Breeds in May in Uganda, Dec–Feb in Angola, Jan–Mar in S DRCongo and Dec–Feb in Zambia. Polygynous. Male defended... read more


    Presumed resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Poorly known; local and uncommon to scarce. Habitat and populations fragmented.

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. (2020). Marsh Widowbird (Euplectes hartlaubi). 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 27 February 2020).