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
Black and yellow bishops

PHOWN:
Accepted: 27117
(Uploaded: 27117)

Total nests counted: 8086359

Latest weaver links:
139 Baglafecht Weaver with grass seeds
138 Finns Weaver: revise global threat status?
137 Yellow-backed Weaver

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
25 Sep 1888, Ploceus ocularius suahelicus , Spectacled Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday 4 [275] - Weaver themes [12]: Genus Euplectes 4

2017-09-20 (800)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

The Euplectes genus will be covered in 4 visual groups: Black and red bishops (5 spp), black and yellow bishops (5 spp), blue-billed widows (2 spp), long-tailed widows (5+1 spp). The Yellow-mantled Widowbird will also be covered in the "black and yellow" group. The Red-collared Widow is genetically closest to the bishops but is covered in the visual "long tailed" group.

Genus Euplectes 4. black and yellow bishops

There are four bishops and a widowbird where the males in breeding plumage have black and yellow body plumage. These are all in the same genus, but are not each other's closest relatives. Other Euplectes species are black but have some yellow on the wing shoulder in some subspecies (White-winged Widow, Marsh Widowbird and Montane Marsh Widowbird).

These bishops are small to medium sized weavers living mainly in moist grasslands, but also in a variety of other habitats. Their tails are of short to medium length. The bill is short and conical as the primary diet is seeds. The eyes are brown. The females are brown all year, and are smaller than the males.

The Fire-fronted Bishop occurs in East Africa, the Golden-backed Bishop is restricted to coastal Angola, and the other 3 species occur fairly widely across Africa.

These bishops are territorial and polygynous. The nest is a thin-walled oval structure of coarse grass with a side entrance, sometimes with a porch over the entrance.

Black and yellow bishops:
Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus
Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus
Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis
Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura

Fire-fronted Bishop
Fire-fronted Bishop male
Golden-backed Bishop
Golden-backed Bishop male
birdpix 37065
Yellow-crowned Bishop male
birdpix 29263
Yellow Bishop male
Yellow-mantled Widowbird
Yellow-mantled Widowbird

Weaver Wednesday 4 [274] - Weaver themes [11]: Village Weaver northern race in SA

2017-09-13 (799)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Village Weaver northern race in SA

On 1 Sept 2017 Andrew Pickles photographed a male Village Weaver with a black crown in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The subspecies in southern Africa, P. c. spilonotus, has a yellow crown, and the the black-crowned subspecies, P. c. nigriceps, has its southern limit on the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Andrew's record is the furthest south record to date.

Some previous records:

birdpix 40031
Village Weaver (photo (c) A. Pickles)
birdpix 40031
Village Weaver (photo (c) A. Pickles)

Weaver Wednesday 4 [273] - Weaver themes [10]: Genus Euplectes 3

2017-09-06 (798)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

The Euplectes genus will be covered in 4 visual groups: Black and red bishops (5 spp), black and yellow bishops (5 spp), blue-billed widows (2 spp), long-tailed widows (5+1 spp). The Yellow-mantled Widowbird will also be covered in the "black and yellow" group. The Red-collared Widow is genetically closest to the bishops but is covered in the visual "long tailed" group.

Genus Euplectes 3. blue-billed widows

There are two widowbirds where the males in breeding plumage have black plumage with coloured wing patches, and bluish bills. These two species are also closely related.

These widowbirds are small to medium sized weavers living mainly in grasslands. Their tails are of medium length (longer than in the bishops, but much shorter than in the long-tailed species). The bill is short and conical as the primary diet is seeds. The eyes are brown. The females are brown all year, and are smaller than the males. The Fan-tailed Widowbird has rufous underwing coverts in all individuals. The White-winged Widowbird has pale yellow patches on the wing in females. The bills of both females are pinkish horn.

Both species occur in southern and East Africa, with the Fan-tailed Widowbird also extending into West Africa.

These widowbirds are territorial and polygynous. The nest is a thin-walled oval structure of coarse grass with a side entrance, sometimes with a porch over the entrance. The male may start building nest frames, but the female does most nest-building. The eggs are blue or green, with streaking and spotting. The female incubates and feeds the young.

Blue-billed widows:
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus
Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris

birdpix 37660
White-winged Widowbird male
Fan-tailed Widowbird
Fan-tailed Widowbird male
White-winged Widowbird female
Fan-tailed Widowbird
Fan-tailed Widowbird female

Weaver Wednesday 4 [272] - Weaver themes [9]: Double or triple weaver nests

2017-08-30 (797)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Why do weavers sometimes build two or more nests suspended below each other?

Many weavers are polygynous, meaning that the male wants to try and attract several females to his colony. The down side is that the male needs to build several nests, and nest building is energetically costly. It takes a weaver at least a day to build a typical nest, but he still continues adding material for a few days at a slower pace. When females come to investigate nests, the male displays mainly from the newest nest. Females usually only accept green nests, ie built within the last few days as the material soon fades to brown. If a female accepts a nest, she will lay eggs and continue breeding even though the nest will fade to brown. If a female is not interested in a male or his nests, she simply moves on to another colony or male.

All this means that after builing a nest, a male has a window of a few days to get a female to like it. After that the nest is wasted. So the male breaks down brown nests in his prime spots so that he can build a new green nest and try all over again. This cycle continues through the breeding season.

To break down a nest does not require too much energy, and a male usually breaks it down in 20-30 minutes (in between other activities). Sometimes, however, males don't bother to even spend the tiny bit of energy to break down a nest, but simply start builing the next nest under an old brown one. Lesser Masked Weavers probably do this more than most other species, but the photos below show that several other weavers also build double or triple (or more) stories!

If you have a photo of a double (or more) decker nest, please submit it PHOWN, PHOtos of Weaver Nests, is a Virtual Museum, citizen science project of the Animal Demography Unit, to collect and monitor breeding distributions and colony sizes of weaver birds globally. To take part, register and upload records at Virtual Museum (read the "How to" pdf for help).

phown 11753
Lesser Masked Weaver nests
phown 1582
Cape Weaver nests
phown 3708
Southern Masked Weaver nests
phown 18646
Red-headed Weaver nests
phown 17779
Lesser Masked Weaver nests
phown 25057
Cape Weaver nests
phown 11934
Cape Weaver nests
phown 3697
Southern Masked Weaver nests

Sociable Weavers phown 7910
A double Sociable Weaver nest! This is a totally different situation. The Sociable Weaver is monogamous (1 male and 1 female make a pair) and these birds are simply incraesing the nest size for future young birds to move in.

Weaver Wednesday 4 [271] - Weaver themes [8]: Genus Euplectes 2

2017-08-23 (796)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

The Euplectes genus will be covered in 4 visual groups: Black and red bishops (5 spp), black and yellow bishops (5 spp), blue-billed widows (2 spp), long-tailed widows (5+1 spp). The Yellow-mantled Widowbird will also be covered in the "black and yellow" group.

Genus Euplectes 2. Long tails

Long-tailed Widowbird
Long-tailed Widowbird

There are 6 widowbirds where the males in breeding plumage have long tails, generally over 100 mm long. The Yellow-mantled Widowbird falls under the "black and yellow" group but is also included here.

The Long-tailed Widowbird has the longest tail of any weaver, sometimes exceeding half a metre! The figure (below) shows the minimum and maximum tail lengths of the 6 widowbirds, for males in breeding plumage only. Several widowbirds have populations with different tail lengths, for instance, the Long-tailed Widowbird in Kenya has the longest tail (416-628 mm), while it is shorter in southern Africa (319-499 mm).

Yellow-mantled Widowbird
Yellow-mantled Widowbird

These widowbirds are small to medium sized weavers living mainly in grasslands. The tail is short in females and non-breeding males. The bill is short and conical as the primary diet is seeds. The eyes are brown. The females are brown all year, and are smaller than the males.

These widowbirds are territorial and polygynous, with Jackson's Widowbird being the only weaver that displays at a lek. The nest is a thin-walled oval structure of coarse grass with a side entrance, sometimes with a porch over the entrance. The male may start building nest frames, but the female does most nest-building, unlike the other Euplectes species. The eggs are blue or green, with heavy streaking and spotting. The female incubates and feeds the young.

Buffalo-weavers
The two Bubalornis buffalo-weavers also have tails longer than 100 mm but the tail length relative to their body size is not particularly large.

Weavers with tails over 100 mm long:
LtW= Long-tailed Widowbird Euplectes progne
MMW= Montane Marsh Widowbird Euplectes psammocromius
RcW= Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens
JW= Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni
MW= Marsh Widowbird Euplectes hartlaubi
YmW= Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura

Marsh Widowbird
Marsh Widowbird

Montane Marsh Widowbird
Montane Marsh Widowbird
Jackson's Widowbird
Jackson's Widowbird
Red-collared Widowbird
Red-collared Widowbird
All news items
Send news items Dieter Oschadleus - see left