Family Weavers (Ploceidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-mantled Widowbird (Euplectes macroura)


French: Euplecte à dos d’or German: Gelbschulterweber Spanish: Obispo dorsiamarillo

Loxia macroura

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

“Africa, in regno Whidah et ad fluvium Senegal” = Ouidah, Benin


In captivity, has hybridized with E. ardens and E. axillaris. Race macrocercus relatively distinctive in having (despite English name) no yellow mantle, but (despite scientific name) tail not always longer than on other subspecies; vocal studies needed. Proposed race intermedius (described from E shore of L Tanganyika) synonymized with nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. m. macroura (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – Yellow-mantled Widowbird – Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, extreme S Mali, Burkina Faso, extreme SW Niger, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria E, discontinuously, to Cameroon, SW Chad, Central African Republic and S Sudan, S to Gabon, Congo, N Angola, DRCongo, South Sudan, W & S Uganda, SW Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and extreme W Mozambique.
  • E. m. conradsi (Berger, 1908) – Ukerewe I, in L Victoria.
  • E. m. macrocercus (M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823) – Yellow-shouldered Widowbird – highlands of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and W Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    14 cm, breeding male 19 cm; male 22–29 g, female 17–20 g. Long-tailed widowbird. Male nominate race breeding is mainly black, with long, graduated tail (mean... read more


    Song from perch a rustling, sizzling "zzher-tsi-zzher-zzhyer", sometimes preceded by... read more


    Moist grassland, marshy areas with trees and scrub; also rice fields and rank grass in abandoned... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly seeds, particularly of sedges (Cyperaceae), also grass seeds; also arthropods. In Ivory Coast savanna, diet estimated at 80%... read more


    Breeds Sept–Nov in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Jun–Aug in Ghana, Jun–Nov in Benin, Aug–Sept in Burkina Faso, Jul... read more


    Generally resident; occurrence seasonal in parts of Ghana.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to locally abundant within extensive range; rare in Mali. No information on current status of race conradsi, which is very poorly... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. (2020). Yellow-mantled Widowbird (Euplectes macroura). 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 24 February 2020).