Orange Bishop

My first impression of the Orange Bishop was a far away orange splash of color, hanging from a reed.  I wasn’t sure what it was so I quickly took several pictures before it flew away. Orange Bishop|San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary|Irvine, CA Armed with my not-in-focus digital pictures, I hunted up a lady in the Audubon building.  No luck, she didn’t recognize the bird. I tried my bird books.  No luck there either.  Next, I tried the museum at Whittier Narrows in South El Monte, CA.  The docent there was an expert in plants but she suggested it might be an Orange Bishop. Voila! I finally found the bird in the back of one of my bird books under “Introduced Birds”.  Mystery solved!


When the male Orange Bishop is in his breeding finery, he is a bright red-orange body with a black cap, breast and belly. He has a thick dark bill and grayish-brown wings with a short tail.

Wintering males, females, and immature birds look like sparrows and are streaked above with yellow throats, and pale yellow streaked sides.  Their under parts are white and they have horn colored beaks.

Range and Habitat

Orange Bishops are native to sub-Sahara Africa. They are called weaver finches and were introduced into Southern California in the 1980′s.  They like areas with lots of weeds, like river bottoms.


The Orange Bishop has a habit of flicking its tail open. You will find it feeding on the ripe seeds of grasses and on the new leaves and buds of small bushes.  It is acrobatic and is often seen feeding upside down on stalks of grass.  The song of the Orange Bishop is harsh and metallic sounding.

Breeding and Nesting

These finches are known for their intricate globe-shaped nests.  The nests are woven of long grasses and are suspended from low bushes. The female lays 3-5 eggs and will incubate the eggs by herself.

Photo Gallery Orange Bishop