The Northern Red Bishop is a little bird measuring between 10 to 11 cm in length and is a familiar face across the continent of Africa. It is one of the smaller weaver finches in the Ploceidae family, distinguished by its bright red plumage and dark black belly.
Its wings, bill, and face are all brown, with a black crown on top of its head. In addition, the bird’s short brown tail is tipped with a bright red patch.
Formerly known as the Red Bishop in both North and South Africa, this bird has undergone a classification change. It has now been split into two distinct species: the Northern Red Bishop and the Southern Red Bishop.
As sister species, the two birds look somewhat similar, yet there are some distinctions between them.
These birds are known for being pious, with an eye-piercing gaze, and having an extraordinary sense of fashion! Indeed, they have been dazzling ornithologists for years.
The bird appears to have a striking red jacket.
Considered as one of the most beautiful birds on Earth.
The male and female Northern Red Bishop has different feather patterns.
Males have orange to red plumage on their back that wraps around their chin, back of their head, throat, and breast. While the feathers of the females (and non-breeding males) feature a diluted brown and white pattern, similar to the feathers of a sparrow.
Southern Red Bishops resemble their Northern counterparts, besides the absence of a black hat on the top of their heads.
The Northern Red Bishop and the Southern Red Bishop are difficult to tell apart at first glance. Both species have plumage that is nearly identical in color, including shades of black, orange, and red.
The main difference between both Bishops is the positioning of these vivid colors.
This marvelous creature can be found all over northern Africa, from Liberia to the Ivory Coast and across Kenya.
Tall grasslands and cultivated areas near water and marshes are preferred habitats for Northern Red Bishops. This species has been found from the plains up to heights of over a thousand meters.
Their primary food source is grass seeds, although they have also been observed eating a wide range of flora and insects.
The Northern Red Bishop goes through a color transformation before breeding.
When not breeding, the male Red Bishop has a similar coloring to the female. However, the male’s coat turns into a stunning red or orange-red color during the breeding season.
Males use their vivid plumage to entice a female to mate with them. Upon completion of the courtship, the female Red Bishop constructs a nest from a variety of grass and reed species, as well as marsh plants.
Once the eggs are laid, the nesting phase can last anywhere from 14 to 16 days. The actual breeding season starts from May and continues deep into November.
Currently, the IUCN Red List evaluates the Northern Red Bishop as Least Concern.
A stable population trend indicates that the species does not meet the requirements for Vulnerable status based on population trend criterion.
Catch a glimpse of this fascinating bird.
The Northern Red Bishop is truly a beauty of nature, deserving of much more recognition for its elegant, vibrant plumage. Whether you are looking to photograph this bird or want to appreciate it from afar, be sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to see one of these beautiful creatures!.
Are you a bird lover? What do you find fascinating about this little bird? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.