Red-billed Buffalo-weaver

© Robert Hofmeyr


Red-billed buffalo-weaver (Bubalornis niger)


The buffalo-weaver is the largest weaver in South Africa at 23 cm. The male red-billed buffalo-weaver has a red bill and legs with overall black plumage. The shoulder patches are lightly flecked with white and the primary edges of the wings are flecked with white. In flight, the white wing patches are visible.
The female is a lot duller in colour and is browner in colour, with a red bill.


The red-billed buffalo-weaver is omnivorous and feeds on seeds, insects and nectar, therefore, they forage mostly on the ground.

Red-billed Buffalo-weaver Breeding

The red-billed buffalo-weaver is polygynous (the breeding practice of a male breeding with more than one female at the same time) and colonial. A typical male red-billed buffalo-weaver will have up to eight nest chambers and numerous females.

The female will lay between 2 and 4 eggs and incubation is carried out by the female and hatch after 12 to 14 days. The female feeds the chicks and they leave the nest after 20 to 23 days. Co-operative breeding has been observed.


The red-billed buffalo-weaver roosts communally in the nest, dispersing during the day to feed. The nest is untidy, normally built in the north or northeast quadrant of a tree.



Distribution and Habitat

The red-billed buffalo-weaver is found in the far northeast of South Africa and its range extends as a summer visitor, down it to the Kruger Park and the lowveld. They are found in woodlands, more so in acacia woodlands with scattered baobab trees.