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Vitelline Masked Weaver - BirdForum Opus

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Adult male in breeding plumage
Photo © by Steve G
Faraba, The Gambia, 16 October 2008
Ploceus vitellinus


Adult male in transitional plumage
Photo © by Carole-Anne
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, 23 July 2010

12-14 cm (4½-5¼ in)
Male in breeding plumage

  • Black facial mask shows a clear cut off at the chin.
  • Bright yellow underparts
  • Red eye.

Female and non-breeding male are olive above and yellow below, sometimes with a reddish eye. Juveniles similar with paler belly.

Similar Species

Very similar to Southern Masked Weaver but their ranges do not overlap. Vitelline's bill and mask are smaller than in other masked weavers and the mask is neatly rounded on the throat.


Africa. Southwest Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, southern Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana east to southern Chad, northern Central African Republic, southern and eastern Sudan, South Sudan, northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo, central and southern Ethiopia, northwest and southern Somalia, northwest Uganda and north-central Kenya south to central Tanzania.


Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Lake Manyara National Park, Manyara Region, Tanzania, 5 July 2013

Formerly lumped with Southern Masked Weaver (P. velatus), Katanga Masked Weaver (P. katangae), Lufira Masked Weaver (P. ruweti) and Tanzanian Masked Weaver (P. reichardi).


Two subspecies usually recognized[1].

Differences are variable and some authors consider the species to be monotypic [2].


Dry savanna woodland and arid scrubland.



Includes seeds and insects, also nectar from Leonotis nepetifolia; birds will bite flowers off at base to steal nectar.


They are polygynous nesting in small colonies in trees. The male builds an onion shaped nest from woven green grass. Clutch of 2-4 variable blue-white, pink-white or greenish, white eggs sometimes with fine black spotting, others with red or violet flecks.


Song is a dry sputtering squeaky trill, interspersed with rasps, whistles and chirps.


Nomadic flocks form in non-breeding season. Movements likely, influenced by food supply.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Craig, A. (2020). Vitelline Masked Weaver (Ploceus vitellinus). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/61024 on 13 February 2020).
  3. Zimmerman, D.A., Turner, D.A., Pearson, D.J. (1996) Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, ISBN 0-691-01022

Recommended Citation

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