The only weaver with a slender red-to-orange bill. The breeding male is geographically variable, but all races have diagnostic red heads. The female and non-breeding male have mostly plain gray or brown upperparts, red or yellow in the wing, and pale underparts. Pairs occupy broadleaf woodland and moist savanna, where they frequently join mixed-species flocks, foraging for insects by diligently searching leaves and branches. The species is often detected by its distinctive, high-pitched insect-like squeaks and chips that are incorporated into a typical weaver call and song. The much smaller Red-billed Quelea differs from Red-headed Weaver by having a streaky back and occurring in large flocks.