The Orange (Red Bishop) Weaver

Orange Weaver8,10,11,12
Euplectes orix and E. franciscanus
Reproduction:Very difficult
Singing ability:Poor
Compatibility:Aggressive, mixes well with other aggressive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:5" (12.5 cm)
Approx. cost:$80 (US) per pair

Other common names

Red Bishop, Grenadier Weaver. Orange Bishop, Orange Bishop Weaver, Orange Weaver.
  • E. o. franciscana is the species called the Orange Weaver (or Orange Bishop), and is the most commonly encountered in aviculture. Some authors consider it its own species, Euplectes franciscanus.
  • E. o. orix is called the Grenadier Weaver or Red Bishop. It is not commonly kept in captivity, and can be differentiated from E. o. franciscana by its larger size (6") and the fact that it has black feathers under its chin. It hails from South Africa.



Area of distribution

Across northern Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia and Tanzania, and south to Angola and South Africa.



Aggressive while breeding.

Physical descriptions

When in color ("nuptial plumage"--which occurs seasonally), the male appears as follows: black beak, the top of the head and area around the eyes are black, the abdomen is black, the wings are brown, and the rest of the bird (chin, throat, chest, nape of the neck, back, undertail, and upper tail coverts) are orange to red in color.

When out of color ("eclipse plumage"), he appears similar to the hen: sparrow-like coloration with horn-colored beak, tawny brown body color with dark streaks to the feathers, cream belly.


The cocks seasonally enter a more colorful black-and-orange nuptial plumage which the hens do not sport.


No data.


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Orange Weaver cock
E. franciscana cock. Notice the orange chin.

Photo by Isidro Vila Verde.
Wild E. franciscana cock. Photo by Isidro Vila Verde.

Photo by Isidro Vila Verde.
Wild E. franciscana cock. Photo by Isidro Vila Verde.

Orange Weaver cock
E. franciscana cock.

Orange Weaver cock
E. franciscana cock.

Orange Weaver cocks
E. franciscana cocks in well planted aviary.

Orange Weaver cock
E. franciscana cock. Photo by Julio Caldas.

Grenadier Weaver cock
E. o. orix cock. Notice the black chin. Photo by Andrew Mercer.

Grenadier Weaver hen
E. o. orix hen. Photo by Andrew Mercer.

Grenadier Weaver cock
E. o. orix cock. Photo by Andrew Mercer.

Grenadier Weaver cock
E. o. orix cock. Photo by Andrew M. Howe.

Orange Weaver hen
Hen. Photo by Marty DeAngelo.

Grenadier Weaver cock and nest
E. o. orix cock and his nest. Photo by Rute.

Two weavers
E. nigroventris ("Zanzibar Red Bishop"). This bird is often confused with the Orange Weaver, but differs in that the orange color is present on the top of the head and forehead, in contact with the upper bill. This bird also has a black throat. I suspect these are both cocks since the tawny-colored bird is beginning to get black feathering on its belly.

Two weavers
E. hordeacea ("Crimson-crowned Weaver" or "Black-winged Red Bishop"). This bird is also often confused with the Orange Weaver, but differs in that the orange color is present on the top of the head and forehead, in contact with the upper bill. Unlike E. nigroventris above, this cock has an orange throat. The hen of this pair is on the left.

Two weavers
From this angle it is easier to appreciate the orange forehead of the E. hordeacea ("Crimson-crowned Weaver" or "Black Winged Red Bishop") cock. The hen is on the left.

Favorite foods

Small cereal seeds, live food, green food.

Natural habitat

Reed beds near surface water.


No data.

Special considerations

If keeping these birds in a mixed collection, they may be housed with larger, more robust finches such as cut-throats, java sparrows, and other similarly sized weavers. Keep an eye on the birds when they come into nuptial plumage as they may become aggressive at this time--separate overly aggressive birds from the flock to prevent fighting and injury. The "Orange Bishop" is sometimes thought to be a faded version of the "Red Bishop" which has lost its intense coloration while molting in captivity. Although most Bishops do fade in captivity (likely due to a dietary deficiency), the Orange Weaver is actually a separate subspecies of the Red Bishop. Color feeding captive birds (as well as providing grated carrots and a variety of live food) may help them to retain the depth of their reddish nuptial plumage during subsequent molts.

Breeding season

No data.

Breeding tips

This species is polygamous, so when attempting to breed, a small group of at least 2 to 3 hens should be provided for each male. If only one hen is housed with the cock, he may harass her during the breeding period, resulting in losses of eggs and/or chicks. Weavers appear to need fairly high temperatures for breeding to take place. Ideally, colony breeding should be set up in a spacious, well-planted aviary because males tend to become very defensive of their nesting territories, especially towards other males of their same species. When the male displays, the feathers around his neck are fluffed outward. The male constructs an intricately woven nest (hence the name "Weaver") from raffia, dried grasses, and similar plant materials. He will often accept coconut fiber. In the wild, this nest is often built within reed beds, but in captivity, it may be suspended from the aviary roof or from branches within a shrub. The nest is oval in shape. As soon as he has settled one hen in the nest, he will go on to build the next nest for the next hen. Each hen will lay her greenish-blue colored eggs and do all of the work of incubation and chick rearing by herself while the cock devotes his time to guarding the nesting territory. A constant, ample supply of live food is essential throughout the breeding period. Young should be removed from the enclosure as soon as they become independent.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:2-4 eggs
Incubation:Done by the hen
Hatch date:After 12 days of incubation
Fledge date:At 14 days of age
Wean date:5 weeks of age

Related Article(s)

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Orange (Red Bishop) Weaver

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