Cardinal quelea

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Cardinal quelea
Quelea cardinalis - Cardinal Quelea.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Ploceidae
Genus: Quelea
Species: Q. cardinalis
Binomial name
Quelea cardinalis
(Hartlaub, 1880)

The cardinal quelea (Quelea cardinalis) is a species of bird in the Ploceidae family. It is found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.


The cardinal quelea is a small (about 10 centimetres or 3.9 inches long) sparrow-like bird with a short heavy black bill, that breeds in colonies. The male in breeding plumage has a red head extending onto the breast but not onto the streaked nape. The female has a yellowish face, brow stripes and throat. The non-breeding plumage of the male resembles that of the female, but retains some red on its head.[2][3]


Gustav Hartlaub was the first to described the cardinal quelea, giving it the scientific name Hyphantica cardinalis in 1880, based on specimens that were collected by Emin Pasha near Lado in South-Sudan during 1879.[4][5] In 1951, Hans von Boetticher regarded the cardinal quelea and red-headed quelea sufficiently different from the red-billed quelea to create a new genus Queleopsis.[6] Its name in Swahili is kwelea kidari-chekundu.[7]


Molecular phylogeny indicates that ancestors of the quelea species might have originated in India and dispersed to Africa.[8][9] Based on more recent DNA-analysis, the red-headed quelea forms a clade with the cardinal quelea, and this clade is sister to the red-billed quelea Q. quelea. The genus Quelea belongs to the group of true weavers (subfamily Ploceinae), and is most related to Foudia, a genus of six or seven species that occur on the islands of the western Indian ocean. This clade is sister to the Asian species of the genus Ploceus. The following tree represents current insights in the relationships between the species of Quelea, and their closest relatives.[10]

genus Quelea

Q. quelea

Q. cardinalis

Q. erythrops

genus Foudia

Asian species of the genus Ploceus


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Quelea cardinalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Kardinaalwever Quelea cardinalis". Werkgroep voor Ploceidae (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-17. 
  3. ^ Ian Sinclair; P.A.R. Hockey, eds. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 9781770072435. Retrieved 2017-05-17. 
  4. ^ "Cardinal Quelea". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Cardinal Quelea". Weaver Watch. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  6. ^ "Scientific name: Queleopsis". The Taxonomicon. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  7. ^ "Kardinaalwever Quelea cardinalis". Avibase. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  8. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A; Ruiz-del-Valle V; Gomez-Prieto P; Reguera R; Parga-Lozano C; Serrano-Vela I (2009). "Estrildinae Finches (Aves, Passeriformes) from Africa, South Asia and Australia: a Molecular Phylogeographic Study" (PDF). The Open Ornithology Journal. 2: 29–36. doi:10.2174/1874453200902010029. 
  9. ^ Allende, Luis M.; Rubio, Isabel; Ruíz-del-Valle, Valentin; Guillén, Jesus; Martínez-Laso, Jorge; Lowy, Ernesto; Varela, Pilar; Zamora, Jorge; Arnaiz-Villena, Antonio (2001). "The Old World sparrows (genus Passer) phylogeography and their relative abundance of nuclear mtDNA pseudogenes" (PDF). Journal of Molecular Evolution. 53 (2): 144–154. PMID 11479685. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. 
  10. ^ De Silva, Thilina N.; Peterson, A. Townsend; Bates, John M.; Fernandoa, Sumudu W.; Girard, Matthew G. (2017). "Phylogenetic relationships of weaverbirds (Aves: Ploceidae): A first robust phylogeny based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 109: 21–32. Retrieved 2017-04-05. 

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