Weighing around 78g and measuring 23cm in length, the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver is one of the largest members of the weaver-family (Ploceidae) occurring in South Africa. They occur in dry savannas and open woodlands, showing a preference for areas dominated by thorny trees and heavily grazed areas, often near human habitation. It does most of its foraging on the ground with insects and other invertebrates, seeds and fruit making up the bulk of its diet.
Reb-billed Buffalo Weavers are social birds living in colonies of varying size. In these colonies the adult males have a dominance hierarchy, with the most dominant male having the biggest harem of females. Their nests are huge constructions of thorny twigs with several nest chambers, and often times several of these “lodges” are placed together in the same large tree, utility pole or windpump. Red-billed Buffalo Weavers breed from early spring to late autumn. The females take full responsibility for incubating the clutch of 2-4 eggs over a two-week period, and also care for the chicks until they leave the nest about 3 weeks after hatching.
Being a species that is actually benefited by agriculture and overgrazing, the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver is considered of least concern by the IUCN. They occur in two separate populations in Africa – one in east Africa and the other in southern Africa. In the RSA, Red-billed Buffalo Weavers occur from the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo through Gauteng and the North West to the thorny savannas of the Northern Cape.