Weaver species

Choose different species from drop-down list and press 'Go' button. See Full species list.

Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis

IUCN: Least concern     Discovery: 025

Categories: long tube, fruit, nectar, Nest use, Ploceus 6: 'Hyphanturgus', palm,
News items about species


Black-necked Weaver
Black-necked Weaver,
figure from Vieillot 1805
Black-necked Weaver
Black-necked Weaver,
figure from Swainson 1837
Black-necked Weaver map
Black-necked Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Black-necked Weaver was formally described by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist. This species had been collected by Jean Perrein, a French naturalist, who travelled in Africa and on other continents. Vieillot was interested in the habits of living birds, but Perrein did not provide any field notes for the Black-necked Weaver, as he had done for the Crested Malimbe. Vieillot also gave a French name to this species, ie. Le Tisserin a gorge noire (meaning Weaver with a black throat).

Vieillot described the plumage of the Black-necked Weaver and implied that it had been collected in Malimbe, now called Malembo, in Cabinda, Angola.

Perrein sent his specimens to Academy of Sciences in Bordeaux, France, from where the Black-necked Weaver type was moved to the Paris Museum (Swainson 1838).

The second illustration of this species to be published, was by Swainson 1837, but this was of the West African race.

Scientific citation

Malimbus nigricollis Vieillot 1805 Oiseaux chanteurs, p.74 1805 Malimba, Angola.

Meaning of names

nigricollis Latin: niger, black; Mod. Latin: -collis, necked.

First English name

Round-winged Weaver (Swainson 1837).

Alternate names

Fernando Po Spectacled Weaver, Kenya Black-necked Weaver, Manenguba Weaver, Swainson's Spectacled Weaver, Swainson's Weaver.


Jean Perrein.

Date collected

Before 1805.

Locality collected

Malimbe =Malembo, Cabinda, Angola.

Type specimens

Type specimen probably still in the Natural History Museum in Paris.

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday 2, a weekly series about the discovery of each weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [142] - Discovery [25]: Black-necked Weaver on 2015-03-04

1. Basic biology

Black-necked Weaver
Black-necked Weaver,
male, brachypterus

Identification. The Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis is similar to the Spectacled Weaver, having a golden head with a narrow black mask through the eye, and a black bib in the male. Birds from Cameroon to Kenya are easily distinguished from the Spectacled Weaver by black upperparts, wings and tail in both sexes; thefemale and juvenile have a diagnostic yellow line between the black crown and mask. Birds in West Africa have green upperparts and differ from Spectacled Weavers in having a green (not yellow) crown, the male has a heavy chestnut wash around the black part, and the female has a yellow line between the crown and mask and a brown eye.

Distribution. The Black-necked Weaver is found from West to eastern Africa. Three subspecies are recognised (see map left, based on Birds of Africa):
P. n. nigricollis, black-backed, in central Africa (see red on map). Black-necked Weaver map
P. n. brachypterus, green-backed, in West Africa, including Bioko Island (see green on map). Birds from Bioko may be an additional race (po) having a longer and heavier bill, but further study is needed.
P. n. melanoxanthus, black-backed, in East Africa (see blue on map). The male resembles the nominate subspecies but the forehead and crown are golden yellow.

Black-necked Weaver
Black-necked Weaver,
female, brachypterus

Habitat. The Black-necked Weaver inhabits woodland, ranging from savanna to gallery forest, forest clearings and edges, gardens, oil palm, cocoa and coffee plantations, and mangroves, and occasionally in eucalypt plantations. Pairs remain together all year. It is not usually gregarious but small groups may forage together during the dry season, and may roost in groups.

Food. The Black-necked Weaver is mainly insectivorous, feeding on grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, ants, bugs, termite and ant alates. It also feeds on seeds, spiders, berries, fruit and nectar. In one study in Ivory Coast, diet was estimated as 60% arthropods, 20% fruit and 10% seeds. It sometimes joins mixed-species flocks of insectivores around clearings, gleaning the vegetation for insects. It usually feeds within 2 m of the ground, but may feed in the canopy.

Black-necked Weaver
Black-necked Weaver nest

Breeding. The Black-necked Weaver is solitary and monogamous, probably having a permanent pair bond, but polygyny has been recorded. The male defends the immediate vicinity of the nest. There are usually solitary nests or, where several nests are together, only one is occupied. One colony had 30 pairs in oil palm near Libreville, Gabon.

The nest is retort-shaped with the entrance tunnel short or up to 20 cm long but narrower than the tunnel of the Spectacled Weaver. The nest is woven of grass, or in more forested areas, vine stems or tendrils of creepers. It is not tightly woven and often unlined, so that the eggs are visible from outside, but nests are usually well hidden (in contrast to the more exposed nests of Spectacled Weavers).

Black-necked Weaver
Black-necked Weaver eggs,
figure from Ogilvie-Grant 1912
The nest is usually built in the centre of thick trees but in Uganda may be attached to elephant grass. On Bioko nests in coconut palms are built near wasp nests. Two eggs are laid, and they are blue to whitish, with fine red speckles.

Old nests of the Black-necked Weaver may be used for breeding by Dusky-blue Flycatchers Muscicapa comitata and occasionally by Bronze Mannikins Spermestes cucullata.

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [65]: Black-necked Weaver on 2013-09-11

2. Breeding facts

Pair bond
Monogamous, probably with long-term pair-bond; occasionally polygynous, e.g. at two sites in Kenya male acquired two females
Breeding season
Jul-Nov in Senegambia, Sept-Oct in Liberia, Jan-Mar in Ghana, Jul in Burkina Faso, Jun-Sept in Nigeria, mainly Mar-Apr and Aug-Sept in Cameroon, in most months except main dry season (most breeding Nov-Apr) in Gabon, Nov in PRCongo; in DRCongo, Feb-Mar and Jun-Oct in Kivu, Mar-Oct in NE and Nov-Dec in Itombwe; in most months (peaks Apr-May and Sept) in Uganda, Jan-Jul (mainly Mar-May) in Kenya, and Sept-Oct and Jan in Rwanda
Nest site
suspended from tree in savanna steppe or attached to elephant grass in E Africa, in W Africa up to 2 m above ground in low tree, even in villages in Cameroon; on Bioko, in oil palm close to nest of the wasp Polibioides tabida
Nest building
built by male, female sometimes contributing
Colony size
Old reports of colonial nesting in W Africa, and colonies of up to six nests noted in Liberia, also group of 30 nests in oil palms in Gabon (nesting on fringes of mixed colonies of P. cucullatus and P. nigerrimus may account for some of these observations), and two pairs in Gabon nested within 5 m of each other; elsewhere a solitary nester, or, where several nests present only one occupied (single male may build up to four nests at a site)
Clutch size
usually 2 eggs
Egg colour
blue to whitish with fine red speckles
Egg size
average size of 29 eggs 21 x 14 mm (Cameroon)
incubation at one nest reported as done by both male and female, at another by female only; no information on duration of incubation period
Chicks and nestling period
chicks fed by both sexes; no information on duration of nestling period

Breeding information based on Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 15.

3. Photos of Weaver Nests

Vm 27617

Vm 26338

Vm 17868

Vm 17610

Vm 16863

Vm 15774

Thumb-nails of most recent PHOWN records - click on one to see its full record
See all PHOWN records for this species here.

PHOWN (Photos of Weaver Nests) provides valuable info on breeding distribution and colony sizes of weavers.
You can contribute by registering and submitting photos at Virtual Museum webpage.

4. Breeding distribution

Google map showing distribution (For species with small ranges you need to zoom in at the correct area to see the range):
yellow blob - range of weaver species; read more about this here.
- PHOWN records with photos
- PHOWN records with no photos (Nest Record Cards, other records)
- Birdpix records
- comments on out of range records, or interesting records
- type locality
CLICK on the marker on the map to see individual record details.

5. Range changes

Not South African species

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday 3, a weekly series about range changes in South African weaver species.
This species text first appeared as n/a