Weaver species

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Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor

IUCN: Least concern     Discovery: 058

Categories: fruit, Gymnogene, nectar, blue eggs, palm,
News items about species


Yellow-mantled Weaver
Yellow-mantled Weaver,
figure from Reichenow (1902)
(Dark-backed Weaver in front)
Yellow-mantled Weaver
Yellow-mantled Weaver male &
juvenile, figure from Shelley (1905)
Yellow-mantled Weaver map
Yellow-mantled Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Yellow-mantled Weaver was formally described by Karel Johan Gustav Hartlaub, a German physician and ornithologist, but this species had been described previously.

The Yellow-mantled Weaver was first described by George Robert Gray, an English zoologist, author, and head of the ornithological section of the British Museum. Gray started at the British Museum as Assistant Keeper of the Zoology Branch in 1831, when he would have found the specimen brought to the museum years earlier. Gray named the bird "Ploceus collaris" but this name had been used for the Village Weaver (now a subspecies), making the name invalid for the Yellow-mantled Weaver. The first person to realise this problem was Hartlaub, who renamed the specimen to its current name.

The Yellow-mantled Weaver had been collected by Captain Edward Sabine, an Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, and soldier.

Sabine travelled halfway around the world to study the the "oblateness" (shape) of the Earth and carried out measurements on the intertropical coasts of Africa and the Americas. Sabine had struck up a friendship with Douglas Clavering, an officer of the British Royal Navy, who agreed to take Sabine on board the Pheasant. They travelled to Sierra Leone, the Island of St Thomas, Ascension Island, Bahia, Maranham, Trinidad, Jamaica, and New York during the years 1821-23. Sabine obtained the Yellow-mantled Weaver specimen while in Sierra Leone.

The first illustration of a Yellow-mantled Weaver is by Reichenow (1902). The next illustration was published by Shelley (1905), including a juvenile. Reichenbach (1863) mentioned the species, and provided an English name (not the first English name, for once!), but did not illustrate it.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis tricolor Hartlaub 1854 Journ. f. Orn., 2, p.110 Sierra Leone.

Meaning of names

tricolor - Late Latin. tricolor, tricoloured, of three colours.

First English name

Yellow-collared Weaver (Gray 1831).

Alternate names

Yellow-collared Weaver, The tricoloured Weawer, Uganda Yellow-mantled Weaver.


Captain Edward Sabine.

Date collected

Between 1821 - 1823.

Locality collected

Sierra Leone.

Type specimens

The type specimen is in the British Museum (Old Vellum Cat. 21 no. 81a).

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 [175] - Discovery [58]: Yellow-mantled Weaver on 2015-10-21

1. Basic biology

Yellow-mantled Weaver
Yellow-mantled Weaver, male
& female, from Someren 1913
Yellow-mantled Weaver
Yellow-mantled Weaver, male
& juvenile, from Shelley 1905

Identification. The Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor has a striking plumage but is a quiet weaver of the forest canopy. It is black with a yellow hind-collar. The breast and belly are chestnut in the male and matt black in the female. The head of the juvenile is chestnut. Two other weaver species are similar in appearance. Subspecies castaneofuscus of Vieillot's Black Weaver, however, is noisy and active, has no yellow collar, and has a pale eye. The very rare Golden-naped Weaver has a yellow hind-collar but differs in having a yellow line down its back.

Distribution. The Yellow-mantled Weaver occurs from Sierra Leone to Uganda and south to northern Angola. It occurred in Kakamega Forest in western Kenya but there are no recent records. Two subspecies of the Yellow-mantled Weaver are recognised (see map below, based on Birds of Africa): Yellow-mantled Weaver map
P. t. tricolor Sierra Leone to Congo (red on map).
P. t. interscapularis, in DRCongo, Uganda, and NW Angola (blue on map). The male of this subspecies is like the nominate. The female differes from the nominate female in having a duller breast and belly, and a red eye (rather than brown).

Habitat. The Yellow-mantled Weaver inhabits the high forest canopy, particularly along rivers or near swamps.

Food. It feeds on insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, ants, caterpillars and butterflies, termite alates; small fruits and berries. It forages in foliage usually >25 m high, searching on small twigs, and also sallies above the canopy to hawk insects. The Yellow-mantled Weaver searches the bark of dead trees like a woodpecker, working up the tree trunk in an upright posture, and in a spiral direction. It flies to clusters of dead leaves in pursuit of insects trying to escape. Its dipping flight between trees is reminiscent of a woodpecker. It may be found in groups of 4-6 birds, and joins mixed-species flocks, especially at fruiting trees. It does not descend to the undergrowth, is usually silent, and thus easily overlooked.

Yellow-mantled Weaver
Yellow-mantled Weaver colony

Breeding. The Yellow-mantled Weaver is a monogamous, colonial nester, with up to 50 nests (average of 11, in 52 colonies in Liberia); one colony at Kumasi in Ghana contained about 500 nests. In mature forests in Liberia, 12 of 31 colonies were close to Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis nests.

The nest is a coarsely woven retort with a wide entrance tunnel. The nest is suspended at end of a thin bough at 20-50 m above the ground. The nest is constructed of rootlets, vine tendrils and fibres, and is lined with soft fibres. The eggs are white, almost translucent, or plain blue.

The African Harrier Hawk Polyboroides typus is a major nest predator in Liberia. A colony in Ghana was destroyed by crows, harrier hawks and other raptors. The Yellow-mantled Weaver is parasitized by the Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx capius.

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [54]: Yellow-mantled Weaver on 2013-06-26

2. Breeding facts

Pair bond
Breeding season
Mar in Guinea, Oct in Liberia, Aug-Oct in Ghana, Oct-Mar in Nigeria, Sept-Mar in Gabon, Feb in Angola; in DRCongo, Jun-Oct in N, Jan-Jun in Kivu, Jun-Jul in C forest and Jan-Feb in Itombwe; May-Oct in Uganda
Nest site
suspended 20-50 m above ground (in Nigeria mean l6 m) at end of thin branch; in Gabon nests in same trees, often introduced cabbage-palm (Livistona australis)
Nest building
no information
Colony size
Colonial, with up to 50 nests together colonies in Liberia held average of 11 nests); one colony of 500 nests reported from Ghana
Clutch size
2 eggs
Egg colour
white or plain blue
Egg size
size 23 x 1 6 mm
no information on incubation period
Chicks and nestling period
no information on nestling period

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

3. Photos of Weaver Nests

Vm 13820

Vm 5873

Vm 5336

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