With a body no bigger than a sparrow’s, the graceful PARADISE Wydah (upper right, above its modest mate) tows a flowing tail that may reach a foot in length. On the ground rests the COMBASOU, a feathered Jekyll-and-Hyde whose winter suit (left) is as plain as that of the female (right), while in summer it is clad in dressy bluish black (middle). In the center are the brilliant RED-BILLED WEAVER (left) and the ORANGE WEAVER, both of the family whose name derives from their elaborately interwoven nests.
By Alexander Wetmore
Originally appeared in the December 1938 issue of the National Geographic Magazine
This Web version COPYRIGHT 2004
The orange weaver (Euplectes franciscana), known to aviculturists as the “orange bishop,” is a native of northern tropical Africa. The male is a bird of handsome color and unusual plumage, as the upper and under tail coverts are nearly as long as the tail, and the elongated flank feathers form puffs that are thrown out in display on either side (Color Plate V). The female and the young male are streaked, sparrowlike little birds with no hint of the brilliant colors of the adult male.
These are birds kept primarily for color, and are found in many aviaries. Three distinct species are ordinarily grouped as “orange bishops” by bird dealers, the one described above being the smallest. The red bishop, or grenadier bishop (Euplectes orix), is the largest of the three, and has the head and throat black like the abdomen, and the wings and tail blackish. The fire-crowned, or crimson-crowned, bishop (Euplectes kordeacea) has the crown orange instead of black. Two related species. the Napoleon and the taha weavers. have the males colored vividly in yellow and black.