It ranges from 17 to 19 cm (6.7 to 7.5 in) in length and is characterized by a broad, white eyebrow stripe and white rump visible in flight. While the male white-browed sparrow-weaver sports a black bill, the female's bill is horn-colored (light gray); that of the juvenile is pinkish-brown. In Zimbabwe, the white-browed sparrow-weaver shows faint brown spotting across its white breast. Similar species The yellow-throated petronia has a pinkish brown (not black) bill, a buff (not white) eyebrow stripe, black (not pink) feet, and yellow shading at the bottom of a white throat. Additionally, the white-browed sparrow-weaver is larger than the yellow-throated petronia. Unlike the white-browed sparrow-weaver, the yellow-throated petronia may be found in broad-leaved woodland.

Habitat and Distribution

The white-browed sparrow-weaver is found in greatest numbers in north-central southern Africa. While this species most densely populates dry regions with woodland or wooded grassland at northern South Africa, its range includes Botswana, northern and central Namibia, and western Zimbabwe. It is seen very often in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia and southern Malawi. Populations may be found as far north as Ethiopia. This species nests along thornveld and scrubby, dry riverbanks. Because the white-browed sparrow-weaver nests in colonies, populations are sedentary.


Year round, groups of the white-browed sparrow-weaver are active and nest-building. Groups of ten to sixty inverted-U-shaped nests of dry grass appear in the outside limbs of trees, although only several are used for breeding or roosting. While breeding nests have only one entrance, roosting nests have an entrance located at each of the two nest extremities. Research has shown that, throughout a region, nests are located at the leeward side of a tree. This behavior preserves a greater number of intact nests for breeding and roosting. White-browed sparrow-weaver nests are sometimes used by other birds, such as the red-headed finch and ashy tit. Breeding Breeding has been observed year round, but occurs mainly in warmer months.

Calls and Songs

The white-browed sparrow-weaver may emit either a brief chik-chick or a loud, fluid, cheoop-preeoo-chop whistle.