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Species Guide
A photo of a Black-winged Red Bishop (Euplectes hordeaceus), male
Black-winged Red Bishop, Male

Black-winged Red Bishop

Euplectes hordeaceus

The black-winged red bishop, a vibrant avian resident of tropical Africa, is a stocky bird measuring 13–15 cm in length. During the breeding season, the male is adorned in a striking scarlet plumage, contrasted sharply by his black face, belly, and wings, and complemented by a brown tail. His conical bill is robust and pitch black.

Identification Tips

In breeding plumage, the male black-winged red bishop is unmistakable with his vivid red body and contrasting black markings. Outside of the breeding season, the male's plumage transitions to a more subdued yellow-brown with streaks above and a paler whitish underside, featuring a distinctive whitish supercilium. Females and non-breeding males can be identified by their paler coloration and the broader pale fringes on the flight feathers of the juveniles.


This species thrives in open country landscapes, with a particular fondness for tall grasslands. It is often found in proximity to bodies of water, where it can be seen flitting about with grace.


The black-winged red bishop has made its home across a wide swath of tropical Africa, from Senegal to Sudan, stretching southward to Angola, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.


A gregarious creature by nature, the black-winged red bishop is often seen in flocks. The breeding male is known for his conspicuous displays, which include singing high-pitched twitters from his grassy stage, puffing out his feathers, or engaging in a mesmerizing slow hovering flight to catch the eye of a potential mate.

Song & Calls

The male's breeding display is accompanied by a series of high-pitched twittering sounds, a vocal performance designed to attract females and assert his presence in the grasslands.


The black-winged red bishop is a diligent architect, constructing spherical woven nests within the tall grasses. A clutch typically consists of 2-4 eggs, which are tended with care.

Similar Species

The non-breeding male may be confused with the northern red bishop's non-breeding male, but can be distinguished by its darker overall appearance and black wings.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the black-winged red bishop is primarily composed of seeds and grains, though it will also partake in insects, providing a varied nutritional palette.

Conservation status

The species is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

Black-winged Red Bishop Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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