Weaver species

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Orange Weaver Ploceus aurantius

IUCN: Least concern     Discovery: 024

Categories: golden, wetland, fruit, waterbirds, palm,
News items about species


Orange Weaver
Orange Weaver,
figure from Vieillot 1805
Orange Weaver
Orange Weaver bill (circled)
compared to other weavers,
figure from Swainson 1838
Orange Weaver map
Orange Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Orange Weaver was formally described by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist. The birds 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 seem to provide any field notes for the Orange Weaver, as he had done for the Crested Malimbe.

Vieillot mentioned that the Orange Weaver had been collected in the same area as the previous species in his publication, ie. the Crested Malimbe. Thus the type locality is Malimbe, now called Malembo, in Cabinda, Angola.

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

Scientific citation

Malimbus aurantius Vieillot 1805 Ois. Chant. p.73 Malimbe.

Meaning of names

aurantia Mod. Latin aurantius, orange-coloured, tawny (aurantia, an orange).

First English name

Orange Weaver (Shelley 1905)

Alternate names

Uganda Orange 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 [141] - Discovery [24]: Orange Weaver on 2015-02-25

1. Basic biology

Orange Weaver
Orange Weaver male,
figure from Reichenbach 1863

Identification. The Orange Weaver Ploceus aurantius has a pale slender bill and reddish-brown or pale grey eye. The male is orange-yellow, sometimes with a black spot in front of the eye. The female and young birds are dull coloured. There is no seasonal change in plumage.

According to Nik Borrow, the eye colour of western Orange Weavers (aurantius) is red and those of Ugandan Orange Weavers (rex) is pale bluish (photos on facebook).

Distribution. The Orange Weaver is localized, often uncommon, and occurs from Sierra Leone in West Africa across to Lake Victoria, and south to northern Angola (see map below, based on Birds of Africa). Two subspecies of the Orange Weaver are recognised: Orange Weaver map
P. a. aurantius from Sierra Leone to DRC, and south to Angola (see red on map).
P. a. rex, around Lake Victoriain Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (see blue on map). The male of this subspecies has a larger black area in front of the eye.

A third subspecies, P. a. royrei is not valid but the type may be viewed here.

In Liberia, Orange Weavers are found along the coast and on rocky islets up to 1.5 km offshore, where they nest low down in shrubs on the leeward side but commute to the mainland for foraging.

Habitat. The Orange Weaver inhabits mangroves, thickets in coastal lagoons, small creeks and esturies in West Africa; inland it occurs along major rivers; and around Lake Victoria it is found in papyrus swamps.

Orange Weaver
Orange Weaver male at nest

Food. It feeds on fruit, including berries, fruit pulp and seeds; also insects, including adults and eggs of locusts, beetles, and caterpillars. It is usually found in pairs or small groups.

Breeding. The Orange Weaver is probably polygynous. It is colonial, and there may be between 12 and several hundred nests at some sites, but sometimes single nests. Nest sites include reeds, palms and other trees. It may form mixed colonies with other weavers.

The nest is built by the male. The nest is ovoid, with no entrance tunnel in central and West Africa, and with a short tunnel in Uganda. The nest is tightly woven from grass or palm strips.

The eggs (clutch of 2) are pale blue, green, brown or reddish, with fine lilac and brown spots, usually denser at the thick end. Incubation is by the female.

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [51]: Orange Weaver on 2013-06-05

2. Breeding facts

Pair bond
Presumably polygynous
Breeding season
Oct-Apr in Liberia, Jun-Jul in Ghana and Togo, Feb, Jun, Sept and Nov-Dec in Nigeria, Oct-Mar in Gabon, Dec and Feb in PRCongo, possibly all months in DRCongo (Apr-Sept in Ituri, Jan in Itombwe), and Feb-May in Uganda
Nest site
placed 1.5-3 m above water in reeds or similar, up to 5 m over land in tree or bush; on offshore islets, low down in shrub on leeward side
Nest building
built by male
Colony size
Colonial, with several hudred nests at some sites, also isolated single nests
Clutch size
2 eggs
Egg colour
pale blue, green, brown or sometimes reddish, with fine lilac and brown spotting, denser at thick end
Egg size
average size 21 x 14.5 mm (Uganda)
incubation by female, in captivity period 13-14 days
Chicks and nestling period
nestling period in captivity 13-16 days

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

3. Photos of Weaver Nests

Vm 27826

Vm 26342

Vm 13829

Vm 13803

Vm 13802

Vm 9888

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