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Dark-backed Weaver - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Forest Weaver

Photo by Alan Manson
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, August 2008
Ploceus bicolor


Length 13-16 cm, mass 28-57 g
Adult: Dark brown upper parts and golden-yellow under parts. The back is grey in some races. The eyes are dark brown and the legs brown.
Immature: Similar to the adult, but duller, with a grey chin and throat.

Similar species

The Strange Weaver has a chestnut breast and an olive back that contrasts with the dark head. The Usambara Weaver is paler, with a chestnut breast and olive-brown head.


Photo by rudydbn
Illovo Glen, Durban, South Africa, August 2005

Sub-Saharan Africa: Cameroon to Angola in the west; DRC and Zambia in central Africa, and Uganda, Kenya and Somalia to eastern South Africa in the east.


Ploceus bicolor has eight subspecies:1:

  • P. b. tephronotus:
  • P. b. amaurocephalus:
  • P. b. mentalis:
  • P. b. kigomaensis:
  • P. b. kersteni:
  • Extreme southern Somalia to coastal eastern Kenya and eastern Tanzania
  • P. b. stictifrons:
  • P. b. sylvanus:
  • Eastern Zimbabwe and adjacent western Mozambique
  • P. b. bicolor:
  • Eastern Cape Province to KwaZulu Natal

Two additional subspecies lebomboensis and sclateri are not recognised by most authorities; with a further two, analogus and albigularis being regarded as invalid2.


Forest and closed woodland.


Seen in pairs or family groups. Does not flock with other weavers, but does join multi-species flocks foraging for insects.


Probes leaves and bark for arthropods; also eats fruit, nectar and flowers.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is woven using vines and creepers, and has a long entrance tube; probably built mainly by the male. Two to four eggs are laid, and incubated for about 16 days. The young are fed by both parents, and remain in the nest for about 22 days. Snakes are known to raid nests.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Avibase

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