Ploceus olivaceiceps 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Ploceidae

Scientific Name: Ploceus olivaceiceps (Reichenow, 1899)
Common Name(s):
English Olive-headed Weaver
French Tisserin à tête olive
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Dowsett, R.J., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Leonard, P., Oatley, T. & Borrow, N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Evans, M., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.
This species is classed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid population decline, owing habitat destruction and degradation across its range and almost qualifies for listing under criteria A2c+3c+4c. Any evidence of a rapid population decline may qualify this species for a higher threat category.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ploceus olivaceiceps is known from scattered areas in Malawi (nine main locations, all of which are legally, but not effectively, protected) (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006), Zambia (apparently localised, but perhaps more widely distributed, in suitable habitat along the Malawi border, including one protected area [Dowsett et al. 1999a, Dowsett et al. 2008]), Tanzania (uncommon in Songea District [Britton 1980], and recently recorded from the north, south of Lake Victoria [T. Oatley in litt. 1999], and Karumwa [Fry and Keith 2004], suggesting that it may occur at low density in a huge area of intervening habitat in west Tanzania [T. Oatley in litt. 1999]), and northern and southern Mozambique (Clancey 1996, Nuttall 1998, Parker 2001). The total population in 1998 was estimated to be c.20,000 pairs (Parker 2001).

Countries occurrence:
Malawi; Mozambique; Tanzania, United Republic of; Zambia
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:734000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):1700
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The total population was estimated at 20,000 pairs in 1998, roughly equating to 60,000 individuals.

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is associated with mature Brachystegia woodland (up to 1,700 m [Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006]) where Usnea lichen is abundant (Nuttall 1998). It is found in the canopy, sometimes in mixed-species flocks. It feeds on a variety of insects, including lepidopterans (Fry and Keith 2004). This species is a solitary and monogamous breeder. Its nest, in which 2-3 eggs are laid, is constructed entirely from Usnea and always placed in a thick clump of lichen. Egg-laying occurs in August-October (Fry and Keith 2004).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is considered threatened throughout Mozambique (Parker 2001), where slash-and-burn agriculture is rapidly transforming woodland into farmland (Parker 2001), and its woodland sites in Malawi face the same pressures for land and fuel (Nuttall 1998), despite legal protection (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006), where in recent years, Dzalanyama Forest Reserve has suffered from intense deforestation (N. Borrow per F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 2016)." Since similar threats are likely to be affecting its habitat in Tanzania and Zambia, and intensifying, there is a risk that it may suffer a rapid decline in the future. There are some reports that this species may be collected for scientific collections, including a female taken during the breeding season (Dowsett-Lemaire et al. 2015), although the extent of this appears low at the moment.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
This species occurs in at least 10 protected areas, but many of these are forest reserves where protection is not effective (Dowsett et al. 1999a, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006, Dowsett et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain an estimate of the total population size. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation across its range. Effectively protect habitat at all sites where it is known to breed.

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Britton, P. L. 1980. Birds of East Africa. East Africa Natural History Society, Nairobi.

Clancey, P. A. 1996. The birds of southern Mozambique. African Bird Book Publishing, Westville, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 2006. The birds of Malawi: an atlas and handbook. Touraco Press/Aves, Liege, Belgium.

Dowsett, R. J.; Aspinall, D. R.; Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 2008. The birds of Zambia. Tauraco Press/Aves a.s.b.l., Liège, Belgium.

Dowsett, R. J.; Aspinwall, D. R.; Leonard, P. M. 1999. Further additions to the avifauna of Zambia. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 119: 94-103.

Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 2004. The birds of Africa vol. VII. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Nuttall, D. 1998. Olive-headed Weaver - in search of the living nest. Africa - Birds & Birding 3(1): 37-42.

Parker, V. 2001. Mozambique. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 627-638. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Ploceus olivaceiceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22719036A94608066. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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