The weaver bird family

There are 117 living species in the weaver bird family (Ploceidae), excluding the sparrows of genus Passer, see species list here. Read more about the family here.

Latest Weaver Wednesday
Rufous-tailed Weaver

PHOWN:
Accepted: 26947
(Uploaded: 26947)

Total nests counted: 8085266

Latest weaver links:
137 Yellow-backed Weaver
136 Black-chinned Weaver
135 Cape Weaver - eating apple

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
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Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday 4 [266] - Weaver themes [3]: Histurgops & Sporopipes

2017-07-19 (791)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Genera Histurgops & Sporopipes

Rufous-tailed Weaver
Rufous-tailed Weaver (figure from wikipedia)
Speckle-fronted Weaver
Speckle-fronted Weaver
Scaly-feathered Finch
Scaly-feathered Finch

The weavers in these 2 genera are brownish birds, found in savanna. The sexes are similar in all 3 species. They are all seed-eaters, and build nests of dry grass.

The Rufous-tailed Weaver is a medium-sized weaver of the East African savanna. It has a pale eye, mottled brown plumage with rufous rump and tail.
Breeding. The Rufous-tailed Weaver is monogamous, but colonial. The nest is a ball of grass, not woven, with an entrance spout, and placed in trees.

The genus Sporopipes has 2 species that are very small, social weavers of semi-arid to arid country. The head plumage has dark feathers with pale margins, and moustachial stripes. The nape colour is distinct - chestnut in the Speckle-fronted Weaver, and brown in the Scaly-feathered Finch.
Breeding. The nest is a bundle of straight grass stems, not woven. The nest is occupied by a single breeding pair, but may be used by groups for roosting in the non-breeding season. Some courtship behaviour (bill-clicking, carrying nesting material) shows parallels to the Estrildidae family (waxbills and finches).

The ranges of the 2 Sporopipes species do not overlap, but the range of the Speckle-fronted Weaver does overlap with that of the Rufous-tailed Weaver (in Tanzania).

Rufous-tailed Weaver Histurgops ruficauda
Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis
Scaly-feathered Finch Sporopipes squamifrons

Weaver Wednesday 4 [265] - Weaver themes [2]: Sparrow-Weavers

2017-07-12 (790)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Sparrow-Weavers, genus Plocepasser

There are four species of sparrow-weavers. The sexes are similar and they are brownish above and white below with a prominent eye-stripe. They are found in dry savanna country. The diet is seeds and insects, taken mostly on the ground. They are found in small flocks.

Sparrow-weavers are monogamous, co-operative breeders. They build conspicuous nests of grass stems, usually in thorn trees. The nests have two entrances, but one is closed in breeding nests. The eggs are whitish, cream, or pinkish and usually marked.

White-browed Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser rufoscapulatus
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
adult
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver

Sparrow-Weaver map
Ranges of sparrow-weavers

The range of the White-browed Sparrow-Weaver overlaps with each of the other three species, while the other 3 species do not overlap with each other (although Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver nearly meet in Kenya and Ethiopia).

Yellow - White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
Red - Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
Light Green - Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver
Light Blue - Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver

Weaver Wednesday 4 [264] - Weaver themes [1]: Buffalo Weavers

2017-07-04 (789)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Buffalo Weavers

There are two weaver genera that contain buffalo weavers:
the black buffalo weavers, Bubalornis, with two species that have red or white bills,
and the white buffalo weavers, Dinemellia, with one species.

Although these species are in different genera, there are some similarities between them. The buffalo weavers are large weavers, they are social, and they are found largely in dry savanna. They build bulky, untidy domed nests of thorny branches in large trees (often Baobabs).

The Bubalornis species are unique in the weaver family in having a phalloid organ on the belly. The sexes are dimorphic in plumage, with females being dark brown. They are cooperative breeders, and their nests contain several chambers. These birds feed on the ground on seeds and insects.

The Dinemellia species is unique in the weaver family in its white plumage with orange-red patches on the wing shoulder, rump and undertail-coverts. The sexes are similar in plumage. They may be cooperative breeders, and their nests contain a single chamber. These birds feed on insects, seeds and fruit.

Origin of the name "Buffalo Weavers"

Andrew Smith first used the genus Bubalornis, meaning "buffalo bird". He based this on his observation of Red-billed Buffalo Weavers associating with buffalo along the Great Marico River. Smith appears to have seen the birds feeding on buffalo, but this has not been reliably recorded again. Smith was a reliable observer, and he knew both species of oxpecker, which he observed with rhinos, so he must have seen unusual behaviour. A more apt name for these weavers would be Baobab Weavers, due to their frequent use of these trees as nesting sites!

The buffalo weavers:

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis albirostris
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli

The Bubalornis species

White-billed Buffalo-Weaver
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from wikipedia
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Birdpix

The Dinemellia species

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Birdpix

Squatters in weaver nests

2017-06-29 (788)
A recent paper in Biodiversity Observations titled "Birds and animals using weavers nests" summarises an interesting part of PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests), a project in the ADU Virtual Museum. Weaver nests are sometimes used for breeding or roosting (or shelter) by a variety of birds, and even other animals. A total of 383 PHOWN records, out of 25000, show examples of squatting (for breeding or roosting) in weaver nests by creatures that did not build the nest. Thanks to all the citizen scientists who contribute to the Virtual Museum, and in particular to those who contributed to this study. Read the paper at pdf, where you can download a pdf of the paper.

map
Photo collage (L to R):
Egyptian Goose nesting on top of Sociable Weaver nest,
Natal Leaf-folding Frog from inside a Thick-billed Weaver nest,
Pygmy Falcon nestling from Sociable Weaver nest,
Brant's Climbing Mouse in a Cape Weaver nest.

Weaver Wednesday 3 [263] - Range changes [26]: Overview

2017-06-28 (787)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 3: range changes in S Africa (Series)

Overview of range changes in SA

Weaver Wednesday 3 showed the changes in distribution for the 25 South African weaver species, based on the changes between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-current).

All species show increases and decreases of varying magnitude in different grid cells, but most weavers showed more increases than decreases. A new species was added to the South African list, the Chestnut Weaver! As a result this species shows the highest percentage increase, although only in a few grid cells. Six species had slightly more cells with decreases than increases: two savanna species (Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Scaly-feathered Finch), a wetland species (Southern Brown-throated Weaver), and 3 Euplectes species (Yellow Bishop, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Long-tailed Widowbird).

The species with the largest area of large increases is the Red-billed Quelea. Range expansions and large increases (in parts of their range) are also shown by White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Thick-billed Weaver, Red-headed Quelea, Fan-tailed Widowbird, and White-winged Widowbird.

Major changes in the Kruger National Park are decreases by Lesser Masked Weaver, Village Weaver (large decreases throughout), Thick-billed Weaver, and Southern Red Bishop. White-browed Sparrow-Weaver and Scaly-feathered Finch are gradually expanding into the Kruger National Park.

Species list of weavers, showing overall changes in South Africa, with links to the Weaver Wednesday story.

Species Very big incr Large incr Small incr Small decr
[1]: Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver      
[2]: White-browed Sparrow-Weaver      
[3]: Sociable Weaver      
[4]: Scaly-feathered Finch      
[5]: Dark-backed Weaver      
[6]: Spectacled Weaver      
[7]: Lesser Masked Weaver      
[8]: Red-headed Weaver      
[25]: Chestnut Weaver      
[9]: Village Weaver      
[10]: Cape Weaver      
[11]: Eastern Golden Weaver      
[12]: Holub's Golden Weaver      
[13]: Southern Brown-throated Weaver      
[14]: Southern Masked Weaver      
[15]: Thick-billed Weaver      
[16]: Red-billed Quelea      
[17]: Red-headed Quelea      
[18]: Southern Red Bishop      
[19]: Yellow Bishop      
[20]: Yellow-crowned Bishop      
[21]: Red-collared Widowbird      
[22]: White-winged Widowbird      
[23]: Fan-tailed Widowbird      
[24]: Long-tailed Widowbird      
Totals 1 9 9 6
map
Weaver range change maps (excluding Chestnut Weaver)
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