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Sociable Weaver (Philetairus socius) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Body measurements from Craig 2004; Maclean 1967.

Attribute Male Female
Body Weight 24-32 g (0.84-1.1 oz) 24-32 g (0.84-1.1 oz)
Total Length c. 140 mm (5.5 in)
Tail Length 42-48 mm (1.7-1.9 in) 41-47 mm (1.6-1.9 in)
Wing Length 72-79 mm (2.8-3.1 in) 70-78 mm (2.8-3.1 in)
Bill Length 16-18 mm (0.63-0.71 in) 17-19.5 mm (0.66-0.77 in)

General Appearance

Body shape (from Craig 2004 unless otherwise noted)

  • Small, finch-like (Craig and Christie 2013)
  • Tail
    • Short
  • Legs
    • Dark brown

Head & facial characteristics (from Craig 2004 unless otherwise noted)

  • Cap (top of head)
    • Brown
  • Cheeks
    • Pale
  • Throat patch (bib)
    • Black
    • Extends from the lores (feathers at bill base) down, onto the chin and throat (Craig and Christie 2013)
    • Rounded on lower margin (Craig and Christie 2013)
  • Bill
    • Pale blue-gray
    • Darker at base
  • Eyes
    • Dark brown

Adult plumage (from Craig 2004 unless otherwise noted)

  • Cryptically colored (Maclean 1973a)
  • Breast
    • Cream-colored (Craig and Christie 2013)
  • Belly
    • Cream colored
  • Mantle (upper back)
    • Dark brown to black feathers with pale edges; producing a scalloped effect
  • Flanks
    • Small patch of black feathers with whitish edges
  • Wings
    • Upper wing dull brown (Craig and Christie 2013)
    • Broad pale margins on wing coverts (Craig and Christie 2013)
  • Rump
    • Pale, sandy-brown
  • Tail
    • Dull brown

Juvenile coloration (from Craig 2004)

  • Lack black throat patch
  • Forehead and crown
    • Speckled with black
  • Bill
    • Pale, horn-colored
  • Appear as adult after first molt
    • c. 16-18 weeks

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexes alike (Craig 2004)

  • Impossible to distinguish between genders in the field (from Maclean 1967)
    • Subtle differences in wing length, reported in one study

Adult Appearance

Sociable Weaver

Small-bodied, sandy-brown birds. Males and females are similar in appearance, their blue-gray bills stand out against black throat bibs.

Image credit: © C Eason from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Juvenile Appearance

Adult Feeding Juvenile

Juveniles have bone colored bills and lack the dark throat bib seen in adults.

Image credit: © Richardson and Winch from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Craig (2004)
Craig and Christie (2013)
Maclean (1967)
Maclean (1973a)

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