Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons)


French: Amblyospize à front blanc German: Weißstirnweber Spanish: Tejedor picogordo
Other common names: Grosbeak Weaver

Pyrrhula albifrons


, 1831,

Algoa Bay, South Africa


Peculiar nest construction shared only with Ploceus superciliosus (which see), and has been suggested that the two are congeneric. Race capitalba rather distinctive with pale dull brown head, mantle and breast and mid-grey to darkish grey underparts, but race melanota provides a link to the blacker-brown taxa montana and unicolor; nevertheless, situation merits further study. Proposed race woltersi (described from Manhica, in S Mozambique) is synonymized with nominate; saturata (from Bitye, on R Dja, in Cameroon) and tandae (from N Angola) with capitalba; and kasaica (from SE DRCongo) and maxima (from Chobe, in Botswana) with montana. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. capitalba (Bonaparte, 1850) – Western Thick-billed Weaver – S Sierra Leone, SE Guinea, Liberia, C & S Ivory Coast, S Ghana E to S Nigeria, W & S Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, S Central African Republic, NW DRCongo, and SW Congo S to NW Angola.
  • A. a. melanota (Heuglin, 1863) – South Sudan, SW Ethiopia, E DRCongo, Uganda, W Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and NW Tanzania.
  • A. a. montana van Someren, 1921 – interior of Kenya and Tanzania, SE DRCongo, Zambia, Malawi, N Botswana (Okavango Basin) and NW Zimbabwe.
  • A. a. unicolor (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1878) – S Somalia, coastal Kenya and Tanzania, Zanzibar and Pemba I.
  • A. a. albifrons (Vigors, 1831) – Eastern Thick-billed Weaver – E Zimbabwe, C & S Mozambique, Swaziland and E South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; male 35–57 g, female 34–53 g. Large, dark-plumaged weaver with very heavy bill. Male nominate race has forehead white (considerable individual variation in... read more


    Song a combination of trills and clicking notes, including such elements as "jee teee click-... read more


    Generally near water and well-wooded areas. Breeds in wetlands; in non-breeding season forages on... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet seeds, soft fruit, insects and occasionally other animal food. Seeds include those of Acacia robusta, Albizia... read more


    Breeds May–Nov in Cameroon, Jul–Oct in Central African Republic, Nov in Sudan, and May–Jun and Aug–Sept in Ethiopia... read more


    Resident. Short local movements in relation to foraging; only one ringed individual moved more than... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant in many parts of range. Estimated population in Swaziland 3000 individuals; 1000 in Kruger National Park, in South Africa, and 7000 in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. & de Juana, E. (2020). Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons). 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 16 February 2020).