Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Red-headed Quelea (Quelea erythrops)


French: Travailleur à tête rouge German: Rotkopfweber Spanish: Quelea cabecirrojo

Ploceus erythrops


, 1848,

São Tomé


Sometimes placed with Q. cardinalis in a separate genus, Queleopsis. Has hybridized with Q. quelea in captivity. S populations described as race viniceps, but validity uncertain; although morphological criteria for recognition minimal, timing of moult and breeding suggests possible separation of N & S populations; further study required. Treated as monotypic.


SW Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Mali (Niger floodplain) E to Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, W & NE DRCongo, S South Sudan, SW Ethiopia and Kenya, and S to São Tomé, Gabon, SW Congo and inland along R Congo and R Ubangi, NW Angola, Zambia, Malawi, SE Mozambique and E coastal South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal). Occasional in NE Namibia and N Botswana (Caprivi Strip) and on Zimbabwean side of R Zambezi.

Descriptive notes

11 cm; male 18–26 g, female 15–22 g. Small, short-tailed weaver. Male breeding has dark red head with blackish barring on throat, red extending a little onto... read more


Male song a repetitive churring. Chattering calls from flocks, and sharp "tyap" contact... read more


Tall grassland, often near water; found also in agricultural areas, including rice (Oryza... read more

Food and feeding

Diet mainly grass seeds of Echinochloa, Rottboellia exaltata, Scleria verrucosa, Pennisetum americana;... read more


Season mainly Jun–Oct in W Africa, Nov–Feb on São Tomé; Jul–Aug in Sudan and N Congo Basin, Jan–Mar... read more


Migratory in some regions, with regular breeding areas and non-breeding zones; apparently non-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common to abundant. In Gulf of Guinea was formerly present on Príncipe I, but now extinct there. Considered a pest species in some... read more

Recommended citation

Craig, A. (2020). Red-headed Quelea (Quelea erythrops). 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 26 February 2020).