Ploceus olivaceiceps (Olive-headed weaver) 

Olyfkopwewer [Afrikaans]; Olijfkopwever [Dutch]; Tisserin à tête olive [French]; Olivenkopfweber [German]; Tecelão-de-cabeça-olivácea [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: Ploceus

Ploceus olivaceiceps (Olive-headed weaver) Ploceus olivaceiceps (Olive-headed weaver)
Ploceus olivaceiceps (Olive-headed weaver)

Olive-headed weavers perching on old-man's-beard lichen (Usnea), Panda, Mozambique. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in small, localised patches in southern Tanzania, eastern Zambia and northern Mozambique, with an isolated population near Panda in southern Mozambique. It generally favours mature miombo (Brachystegia) woodland with plentiful old-man's-beard lichen (Usnea), while near Panda it only occupies miombo woodland with scattered Munondo (Julbernardia) and an understorey of torchwood (Balanites).

Distribution of Olive-headed weaver 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 insects, doing most of its foraging in the tree canopy, gleaning prey from trunks and branches. It often joins mixed-species foraging flocks, along with Spotted creepers, wood-hoopoes, woodpeckers, orioles, cuckoos, crombecs, hyliotas, cuckooshrikes and Black-backed puffbacks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a thick-walled ball of old-man's-beard lichen (Usnea) with a vertical entrance tunnel. It is typically suspended from a branch in the tree canopy up to about 18 metres above ground, attached to the same lichen it is built with, effectively camouflaging it.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-October.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which incubated by both sexes but mainly the female, taking breaks every 30-50 minutes or so to go and forage with the male.
  • Little is known about the young, other than that they are fed by both sexes, but with the female contributing more food.


Globally Near-threatened due its localised and fragmented population, which is caused by habitat loss from aforestation, plus the fact that it doesn't occur in any protected areas in southern Africa.


  • 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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