Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus)


French: Tisserin à tête rousse German: Maskenweber Spanish: Tejedor enmascarado

Ploceus velatus


, 1819,

Namaqualand, South Africa


In the past was sometimes thought to be conspecific with P. katangae (with upembae), P. ruweti, P. reichardi and P. vitellinus. Proposed races peixotoi (confined to São Tomé, where species introduced!), finschi (Namibe, in SW Angola), caurinus (Damaraland, in Namibia), shelleyi (Tete, on R Zambezi, in NW Mozambique) and, in South Africa, tahatali (North West Province), inustus (SW Northern Cape) and nigrifrons (Eastern Cape) separated on basis of minor differences in male plumage; but characters such as width of black on forehead show considerable individual variation, and no races appear warranted; but peixotoi has been listed as a valid race of P. vitellinus#R. Monotypic.


W & SE Angola, W, S & E Zambia, Malawi and NW Mozambique S to coasts of South Africa. Introduced to São Tomé, apparently from Mozambique; also on S Caribbean islands (Leeward Antilles).

Descriptive notes

13 cm; male 28–3 g, female 25–34 g. Male breeding has narrow black forehead and black facial mask covering lores, cheek, ear-coverts, chin and throat, extending... read more


Song a jangling chatter, with chuckles, buzzes and harsh notes interspersed and no clear terminal... read more


Open savanna, often in semi-arid areas, where it occupies scrub and riverine thickets; utilizes... read more

Food and feeding

Varied diet includes seeds of grasses and other plants, such as Atriplex schmidtia, Brachiaria glomerata, elm (Ulmus... read more


Breeds Dec–Jan (sometimes to Mar) on São Tomé; Nov–Apr in Angola, Oct–Mar in Zambia, Jan–Apr in... read more


Resident and partial migrant. In SE Botswana, males remain in breeding areas while females and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Abundant in most parts of range. Population of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, on Botswana-South Africa border, estimated at more than 15,000... read more

Recommended citation

Craig, A. (2020). Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus). 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 21 February 2020).