Northern Red Bishop: Small weaver finch with bright orange-red body and black belly. The head has a black crown, face, and bill and the wings are brown. Orange-red uppertail coverts are very long and extend over the short, brown tail. Native to sub-Saharan Africa.
Formerly known as the Orange Bishop, its name was changed by the American Ornithologist Union in 2016.
Range and Habitat
Northern Red Bishop: Native to northwest and eastern Africa; introduced to and established in Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and across the United States. Currently found in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, and in the Mid-Atlantic States. Inhabits open savanna habitats with tall shrubs and trees.
A large taxonomic order of one hundred eighteen families of birds, the order PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez); includes the New World sparrows, the buntings, and the weavers.
The bird family that includes the weavers, the Ploceidae (pronounced ploh-SEE-uh-dee) is composed of one hundred and nine species of birds in eleven genera that mostly occur in Africa, with a few species in Asia and Australia.
There are three species of Ploceidae in two genera that have occurred in North America. These three species, all introduced, are the Village Weaver, the Northern Red Bishop, and the Yellow-crowned Bishop.
Members of the weaver family are known for nesting in conspicuous colonies made up of intricately woven nests. This behavior might offer these birds protection from predators or help them find mates.
Members of the Ploceidae are small, sparrow-like birds with medium length tails that are rounded at the tips except for the very long tails of the whydahs and some bishop species. Most weavers have medium length legs with strong feet for acrobatic perching, fairly long wings, and large heads with large, fairly stout bills adapted to feeding on seeds and grain.
Although some weaver species have mostly streaked, brown plumage (especially in females), most are beautiful birds with orange, yellow, or red markings that makes a striking contrast against the rest of their velvety black plumages.
The weavers are most prolific in Africa where they occupy savannas, gardens, wetlands, and forested habitats. In North America they occur as occasional feral populations established by birds that escaped from captivity in and around the cities of Miami, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Where these populations occur, weavers sometimes show up at feeders and prefer open, park like areas.
The three introduced species of weavers in North America do not migrate.
Most weavers are very social birds that nest in large colonies and forage together in flocks. They forage for insects, seeds, and grain in vegetation near the ground, some species also foraging on the ground itself. They build elaborate nests with openings at the bottom in large colonies often placed above water or in isolated trees. All of these features are adaptations at avoiding predators.
None of the three introduced species of weavers in North America are threatened. There are several threatened African species, however, all with small ranges and endangered by habitat destruction.
One member of the Ploceidae is possibly the most abundant wild bird species in the world. The Red-billed Quelea of Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have a population that exceeds one billion birds. Unfortunately, this species can occur in immense flocks numbering in the millions that can easily wipe out precious crops meant for people.