Yellow bishop

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Yellow bishop
Yellow Bishop - Kenya S4E8557 (22662474520).jpg
Male at Aberdare Range, Kenya
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Ploceidae
Genus: Euplectes
E. capensis
Binomial name
Euplectes capensis
(Linnaeus, 1766)

Loxia capensis Linnaeus, 1766

The yellow bishop, Cape bishop, Cape widow[2] or yellow-rumped widow (Euplectes capensis) is a resident breeding bird species in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[1]

This common weaver occurs in less arid vegetated areas, such as fynbos, moist grassland and bracken-covered valleys at altitudes from sea level to the Ethiopian highlands.


In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the yellow bishop in his Ornithologie based on a specimen collected from the Cape of Good Hope. He used the French name Le pinçon du Cap de Bonne Espérance and the Latin Fringilla Capitis Bonae Spei.[3] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[4] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[4] One of these was the yellow bishop. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Loxia capensis and cited Brisson's work.[5] The specific name capensis denotes the Cape of Good Hope.[6] This species is now placed in the genus Euplectes that was introduced by the English naturalist William John Swainson in 1829 with the southern red bishop as the type species.[7] There are six subspecies.[8]


The yellow bishop is a stocky 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long bird. The breeding male is black apart from his bright yellow lower back, rump, and shoulder patches, and brown edging to the wing feathers. He has a short crest, thick conical black bill, and a relatively short tail. His bill size varies dramatically between races.[9]

In non-breeding plumage, the black plumage is replaced by heavily streaked buffy-brown, and the bill is pale. The yellow shoulders and rump remain, and are a distinction from the female which lacks the contrasting colour patches. The juveniles and females are notoriously difficult to identify in the field, appearing identical to the juveniles and females of several other bishops and widowbirds as well as some seadeaters.

In the breeding season they are usually solitary or in pairs, but the non-breeding yellow bishop is gregarious, often forming flocks with other 'mixed euplectes'.

They feed on seed, grain and some insects.


Calls include zeet zeet zeet, and a harsh zzzzzzt given by the male in flight. The song of the isolated SW Cameroon phoenicomerus is quite different: a dry rattle followed by 'swit-err, swit-err'.[9]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Euplectes capensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Volume 3. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 171–172, Plate 16 fig 1. The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
  4. ^ a b Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335.
  5. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 306.
  6. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  7. ^ Swainson, William John (1829). Zoological illustrations, or, Original figures and descriptions of new, rare, or interesting animals. 2nd series. Volume 1. London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy; and W. Wood. Plate 37 text.
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Old World sparrows, snowfinches, weavers". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  9. ^ a b Sinclair & Ryan 2003, p. 682

Cited texts[edit]

  • Sinclair, Ian; Ryan, Peter (2003). Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Cape Town: Struik.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil; Tarboton, Warwick (2002). SASOL Birds of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 1-86872-721-1.
  • Stevenson, Terry; Fanshaw, John (2002). A Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa.

External links[edit]