Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Yellow Bishop (Euplectes capensis)


French: Euplecte à croupion jaune German: Samtweber Spanish: Obispo culigualdo
Other common names: Yellow Widow

Loxia capensis


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Molecular data indicate that this species is a short-tailed widowbird, not closely allied to the bishop group. Has hybridized with E. axillaris in captivity. Other proposed races are sabinjo (described from Sabinjo, in E DRCongo), kilimensis (from Moshi, in NE Tanzania), litoris (from Morogoro, in S Tanzania), transvaalensis (from Woodbush, C Limpopo, in N South Africa) and zambesiensis (from Boror, in Mozambique), all synonymized with crassirostris; and, in South Africa, macrorhynchus (described from Klawer, on R Olifants, in NW Western Cape), included in nominate, and knysnae (from Knysna, in SE Western Cape), treated as a synonym of approximans. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. c. phoenicomerus G. R. Gray, 1862 – highlands of SE Nigeria and W & C Cameroon; also Bioko.
  • E. c. xanthomelas Rüppell, 1840 – highlands of Ethiopia.
  • E. c. crassirostris (Ogilvie-Grant, 1907) – SE South Sudan, W & E Uganda, E & SE DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi, C Kenya and coastal and highland Tanzania S to Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe plateau and highlands, C & S Mozambique and NE South Africa.
  • E. c. angolensis Neunzig, 1928 – highlands of Angola.
  • E. c. capensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – S South Africa (Western Cape E to Knysna region).
  • E. c. approximans (Cabanis, 1851) – E South Africa (from Gauteng S to Knysna), W Swaziland and Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; male average 37 g in W Cape but 24 g elsewhere, female average 30 g in W Cape but 19 g elsewhere. Short-tailed bishop-like bird. Male nominate race breeding has entire... read more


    Song from perch a series of loud chipping calls followed by sizzling, "chip-chip-chip pa-tzee tee-... read more


    In N regions mainly montane grasslands, primarily at 1400–2300 m in E Africa, to 3200 m in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet seeds, primarily grass seeds, also cultivated maize (Zea mays), rice (Oryza) and millet; also insects such as... read more


    Breeds Nov in Cameroon and Jul–Oct in Ethiopia; in DRCongo, Jul–Nov in Uele, Jan–Mar in Itombwe, Dec in Katanga, and Feb... read more


    Primarily resident. Highland populations may undertake altitudinal movements, returning in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to common. Common in thinly populated montane regions. Population in Swaziland estimated at 20,000 individuals; in S & C... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. (2020). Yellow Bishop (Euplectes capensis). 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).