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

Accepted: 12506
(Uploaded: 12506)

Total nests counted: 7936604

Latest weaver reference: PAPER: Nectar feeding in weavers

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
26 Jul 1956, Bubalornis niger militaris , Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [110]: Forest Fody

2014-07-23 (541)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

Forest Fody

The Forest Fody Foudia omissa male has a red head and breast with a white belly. The female is dull coloured, and non-breeding males resemble females. Moulting or immature male Madagascar Fodies may be confused with this species, but the Forest Fody has a heavier bill being deeper and longer than that of the Madagascar Fody.

The Forest Fody occurs in forest in eastern Madagascar (see map below, based on Birds of the Malagasy region). There are no subspecies. The Madagascar Fody is found outside forest, and the Forest Fody occurs in forest, but both species overlap on forest edges (due to forest fragmentation) and hybridisation has been recorded. Forest Fody map

The Forest Fody inhabits intact evergreen forest, from sea-level to 2000 m.

The Forest Fody feeds on seeds, insects and small amounts of nectar. It forages in small flocks of up to 15 individuals, and may join mixed-species flocks.

The Forest Fody is apparently monogamous. Nesting is similar to that of the Madagascar Fody. The nest is globular with a side entrance. The eggs are pale blue, and the clutch is 2-3 eggs. There have been no breeding studies for this species.

There are no PHOWN records for the Forest Fody (see PHOWN summary). Be the first to submit a record of this species! Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

PHOWN summary           Previous Wedn: Maxwell's Black Weaver           Full weaver species list

PAPER: Nectar feeding in weavers

2014-07-21 (540)
Craig AJFK. 2014. Nectar feeding by weavers (Ploceidae) and their role as pollinators. Ostrich 85(1): 25-30.

Abstract. Reviews of nectar-feeding by birds initially focused on specialist nectarivores and ignored the role that more generalist feeders may play in plant pollination. Recent work has emphasised the range of bird species, both specialist and opportunistic, that feed on nectar. In this review, I collate published information on nectar-feeding by weavers, highlight known weaver–plant relationships, and suggest areas for future research. There are published records of nectar feeding for Plocepasser superciliosus, Amblyospiza albifrons, Anaplectes rubriceps, two Quelea spp., four Euplectes spp., all six Foudia spp., two Malimbus spp. and 22 Ploceus spp. To date, there have been no unambiguous reports of other genera feeding on nectar. The role of Ploceus species as pollinators of Strelitzia reginae, proposed by ornithologists decades ago, has recently been confirmed by botanists. Current studies of Aloe species in South Africa suggest that opportunistic avian nectarivores such as ploceids may be the chief pollinators of bird-pollinated plants in this genus, whereas specialist nectar feeders (sunbirds) may be 'nectar robbers' in many cases. Particularly for winter-flowering plants, weaver species are potential pollinators, but exclusion experiments are needed to establish their role, while the dietary importance of nectar, and its impact on the birds’ physiology, has not been critically studied.

Table 1 in this paper lists each weaver species (39 species) that has a published record of nectar feeding, and lists the plant genera concerned. There have been no reports of nectar feeding by the social weavers (Philetairus and Pseudonigrita) or Dinemellia buffalo weavers, and also for most forest species. The first record for a Bubalornis buffalo weaver was published recently, see here. The fodies all feed on nectar, and the Rodrigues Fody has a brush-tipped tongue that is adapted to nectarivory. This paper was first presented at the PAOC in Arusha.

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weaver nests with long entrance tubes

2014-07-18 (539)
phown 5189 phown 1028 phown 5320 phown 11499 phown 5338 phown 8416

Several weaver species regularly build nests with long entrance tubes, although some individual nests have shorter tubes:
Baya Weaver phown 7442
Black-throated Weaver
Nelicourvi Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver
Black-necked Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Gola Malimbe
Cassin's Malimbe
Red-bellied Malimbe
Ibadan Malimbe
Rachel's Malimbe
Red-vented Malimbe
Red-headed Weaver

Often long tubed nests are built by solitary, monogamous weavers. This group of weavers usually consists of a pair and they build the nest together. In some malimbes, a group of birds help build a nest. The long tube probably reduces predation but does not stop some predators. In the polygnous weavers it is usually the male that builds (although the female lines an accepted nest) and males want to build many nests in a breeding season, rather than spending energy on building nests with long tubes.

A few weavers do not normally build long entrance tubes on their nests, but may occasionally do so: White-browed Sparrow-weaver, Streaked Weaver, and Sakalava Weaver.

Thanks to the observers who submitted these records! Please record and submit your record of weaver nests to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

Weaver Wednesday [109]: Maxwell's Black Weaver

2014-07-16 (538)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Maxwell's Black Weaver Ploceus albinucha is glossy black in both sexes and the eye is white to greenish-white. The nominate race has white bases to the nape feathers, showing as a pale patch. The juvenile is dark brown above, dull charcoal-grey below, and the eye is brown. It is very similar to Vieillot’s Black Weaver, which has a yellow eye (not whitish). The juvenile Vieillot's Black Weaver has a yellow throat and belly, while the juvenile Cassins Malimbe has an orange throat.

Maxwell's Black Weaver occurs from West Africa to central Africa (see map below, based on Birds of Africa). There are three subspecies:
P. a. albinucha in Sierra Leone to Ghana (see red on map). The adult has a white nape.
P. a. holomelas, in Nigeria across to western Uganda (see green on map). The adult has a black nape, and the juvenile is grey below as is the nominate juvenile.
P. a. maxwelli, on Bioko Island (see blue on map). The adult has a black nape, and the immature is washed with yellow below. Maxwell's Black Weaver map

The Maxwell's Black Weaver inhabits high forest in Cameroon; elsewhere it is found in the vicinity of villages surrounded by secondary forest, often near rivers and creeks. Maxwell's Black Weaver formst large, noisy roosts in the evening.

The Maxwell's Black Weaver feeds on insects including grasshoppers, small caterpillars, and chrysalises. It also feeds on fruit, berries, and nectar. It hawks insects in the canopy. Maxwell's Black Weaver forages in mixed-species flocks but single birds may be found high in the canopy.

The Maxwell's Black Weaver is probably polygynous. It is colonial, with 20-500 nests in a colony. It may form mixed colonies with other weaver species. The nest of Maxwell's Black Weaver is a rough hemisphere with the entrance below and almost no tunnel. The nest is constructed of thin, rough creepers, or is woven from strips of banana leaf. The nest is placed at the tip of a branch or palm frond. The nests are usually high up, in the crown of trees. A colony of 20 nests in Sierra Leone was directly below the nest of a Crowned Hawk-eagle Stephanoetus coronatus. The eggs are undescribed and nothing else is known about breeding. Young birds are sometimes harvested by villagers.

There are no PHOWN records for the Maxwell's Black Weaver (see PHOWN summary). Be the first to submit a record of this species! Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

PHOWN summary           Previous Wedn: Cassin's Malimbe           Full weaver species list

PAPER: masked casanova

2014-07-14 (537)
Mthembu T. 2013-14. The masked casanova! Heritage Magazine Summer 2013/14: 28-30.

Summary. This is a general account of the life history of the Southern Masked Weaver, written for the general public.

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