Weaver Birds or Weaver Finches (Ploceidae)

The Weaver Birds or Weaver Finches (Ploceidae) are small birds that are related to the finches.

They are named for their elaborately woven nests (the most elaborate of any birds).

The weaver group is divided into the buffalo, sparrow, typical, and widow weavers.

Male Masked Weaver at nest

Weaver Species Photo GallerySpecies Index of Weavers


Distribution / Range

Most occur naturally in, sub-Saharan Africa. A few species exist in tropical Asia and in Australia.

Within their range, they sometimes cause crop damage and are, therefore, considered agricultural pests.


The Weavers have strong, rounded, conical bills.

The plumage of the males is brightly colored, usually in red or yellow and black.

Some species show variation in color only in the breeding season.

Male Grosbeak weaver

Nesting / Breeding

Weaver birds typically breed in bird colonies that are typically found close to water bodies. The males build their nests together, often several to a branch.

Usually the male birds weave the nests and use them as a form of display to lure prospective females.

The sparrow weavers, for example, build apartment-house nests, in which 100 to 300 pairs have separate flask-shaped chambers entered by tubes at the bottom.

Most species weave nests that have narrow entrances, facing upside down.

Male weavers build elaborately woven nests that vary in size, shape, material used and construction techniques from species to species. Materials used for building nests include fine leaf-fibers, grass and twigs.

Many species weave very fine nests using thin strands of leaf fiber, and some like the buffalo-weavers, however, form massive untidy stick nests in their colonies, which may have several spherical woven nests within.

Cape Weaver working on nest

Species list in taxonomic order

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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