Euplectes macrourus (Yellow-mantled widowbird, Yellow-backed widow) 

Geelrugflap [Afrikaans]; Geelrugwidavink [Dutch]; Euplecte dos d'or [French]; Gelbschulterwida [German]; Viva-de-manto-amarelo [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Ploceidae > Genus: Euplectes

Euplectes macrourus (Yellow-mantled widowbird, Yellow-backed widow)   

Yellow-mantled widowbird, Osse River Rubber Estate, Edo State, Nigeria. [photo Seth of Rabi ]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs in patches across sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia south through Angola, Tanzania and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in the eastern half of Zimbabwe, generally preferring moist grassland and marshy areas, such as rank vegetation along the edges of cultivated fields.  

Distribution of Yellow-mantled widowbird in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).


It mainly eats seeds (especially of sedges) taken from the ground, supplemented with arthropods such as termite alates, hawking them aerially from a perch.


  • Polygynous solitary nester, as males may mate with up to about 5 females in a breeding season, vigorously defending his territory containing multiple nests against other males and Euplectes species.
  • The male can build up to about 27 nests in a breeding season, which consist of an oval-shaped structure with a side-top entrance, made of woven grass and lined by the female with grass inflorescences. It is typically placed in a dense clump of grass on moist ground, the living leaves of which are often incorporated into the nest.
  • Egg-laying season is from December-March, peaking around January.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-14 days (recorded in captivity)
  • The chicks are fed and brooded by the female only, leaving the nest after roughly 15 days (also recorded in captivity).


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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