Red bishop

Red bishop
Euplectes orix
Photo by Louis Arrivet (Oiseaux)

Common name:

Order Passeriformes
Family Ploceidae

This African species occurs from Tanzania through Zambia and Angola and into southern Africa.

The red bishop is 11-13 cm long and weighs 17-30 g.


It generally prefers open grassland, marshes and cultivated areas, often near perennial water bodies and it prefers to breed in reedbeds. These birds are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.700 m.

They mostly eat grass seeds, namely cereal crops like maize and wheat. They also eat flowers and invertebrates, including beetles, caterpillars, dragonflies, kelp flies, spiders ans sand-hoppers.

Red bishops are polygynous, highly territorial colonial nesters, with each successful male mate with 3-8 females in a breeding season. They can breed almost year-round, but with a peak in November-February. The male builds about 3-13 nests per breeding season, tightly weaving thin strips of reeds and grass to form an oval-shaped structure with a side entrance covered by a hood. It is typically attached to reeds, sedges or bulrushes, or occasionally in crops such as maize. There the female lays 3 pale blue-green or turquoise eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by the female only and fledge 11-15 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size is yet to be quantified, the species is described as common to abundant. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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