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: 10131
(Uploaded: 10131)

Total nests counted: 7916003

SESAW (Survival rates) records:
10469; 6 February 2013
Latest weaver reference: PAPER: new distribution records

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
20 Apr 1880, Euplectes capensis angolensis , Yellow Bishop

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [96]: Gola Malimbe

2014-04-16 (505)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni is a restricted range species that was described as recently as 1974. The Gola Malimbe (photo right: photographer Nik Borrow) is the only ploceid in the Upper Guinea high forest that has a yellow breast, black belly and yellow undertail-coverts. The nape is yellow in the male and black in the female. The immatures is greyer, with some yellow on the head, and a pale bill.

Three Gola Malimbe populations are known: in eastern Sierra Leone (Gola Forest) and adjacent western Liberia; in eastern Liberia and adjacent western Ivory Coast, and recently found population in south-eastern Guinea (see map below, based on Birds of Africa). No races are recognised, but the Gola Malimbe has also erroneously been described as M. golensis.

The Gola Malimbe inhabits the middle storey of primary lowland rain-forest. It is also found in logged high forest and in mature secondary forest. The species is solitary, or found in small groups, and usually occurs in mixed-species foraging flocks through the year.

Gola Malimbe map

The Gola Malimbe feeds on insects up to 3 cm long, including grasshoppers and mantids. It forages actively, by gleaning green leaves and horizontal twigs for insects. It also investigates vertical twigs and liana-covered branches. The Gola Malimbe rarely probes in dry, rolled leaves. Foraging is usually between 8 and 22m above the forest floor.

The Gola Malimbe is probably monogamous. It is a solitary nester, and nest-builds is co-operative. The male sings and displays by facing the female, with the yellow breast and undertail-covert feathers lifted. The nest resembles an inverted sock having a globular chamber and tubular entrance (about 25 cm) pointing down. The nest is suspended from the tip of vertically hanging lianas. The nest is sited between 8 and 21 m above the ground. Several Gola Malimbes from a mixed-species foraging flock will visit a nest site several times a day at irregular intervals; some will weave whilst others fly to and fro with building material and wait for a turn to build. Up to five individuals work on a nest simultaneously, with males tending to work on the attachment and outside of the nest, and females working mainly on the inside and on the entrance spout.

There are no PHOWN records for the Gola Malimbe (see PHOWN summary), and many are needed. Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

PHOWN summary           Previous Wedn: Juba Weaver           Full weaver species list

PAPER: new distribution records

2014-04-14 (504)
Demey R (compiler). 2014. Recent reports. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 21: 93-111.

Three weaver species are included in this report (shown left to right on the map):

Speckle-fronted Weaver - Almadies, Dakar, Senegal - unusual at this locality.

Dark-backed Weaver - Moka [Bioka Island], Equatorial Guinea - occurs on island but not often recorded.

Hartlaub's Marsh Widowbird - near Kajjansi, south of Kampala, Uganda - new locality.

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Snakes and weaver nests

2014-04-11 (503)
phown 9446

Snakes are common predators of weaver eggs and chicks, and there are quite a few PHOWN records of snakes searching through weaver nests for food. The most recent records are of a Boomslang (PHOWN 9447) and a Cape Cobra (PHOWN 9446) in Sociable Weaver nests. These were submitted by Jacky Spiby, while helping with Sociable Weaver Research at Benfontein farm.

Previous records of snakes in PHOWN may be viewed here:

WeaverSnakeNotes & PHOWN link
Cape Weaver Boomslang PHOWN 572, and PHOWN 1387
Sociable WeaverCape Cobra PHOWN 2172
Vieillot's Black Weaver young python PHOWN 2448

If you have a photo of snake predation on weaver nests, please submit to both ReptileMAP and PHOWN at the Virtual Museum upload site.

Weaver Wednesday [95]: Juba Weaver

2014-04-09 (502)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Juba Weaver Ploceus dichrocephalus is a poorly known weaver with a small range. The male (photo left: photographer János Oláh / Birdquest) is golden yellow with the head to nape and breast dark chestnut to blackish. The plain yellow-green back is not streaked as is the Village Weaver. The female lacks yellow underparts of the male, has a buff breast and flanks, and brown eye. The female is best separated from the similar female Vitelline Masked Weaver by a 2-tone bill being dark above and light below.

The Juba Weaver occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia and extreme NE Kenya but breeding is only known from Ethiopia (see map below, based on Birds of Africa). No races are recognised. Juba Weaver map

The Juba Weaver inhabits riverine bush, short grass savanna, Acacia-Commiphora thornbush, and semi-desert savanna.

The Juba Weaver feeds on seeds, and probably also on insects. It is generally found in pairs and small groups.

The Juba Weaver is probably polygynous. It is colonial, nesting in small groups in trees or reeds. The nest is oval, with virtually no entrance tunnel. It is woven from grass, and lined with fine grass. The nest is suspended from the tip of a branch or at side of a reed. The eggs (clutch 2) are pale greenish-blue or greyish-green, spotted with brown and lilac. Nothing else is known about breeding.

There are no PHOWN records for the Juba Weaver (see PHOWN summary), and many are needed. Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

PHOWN summary           Previous Wedn: Fire-fronted Bishop           Full weaver species list

PAPER: Weavers in the Middle Zambezi Valley

2014-04-07 (501)
Katanekwa VK. 1992. Habitat selection by weaver birds in the Middle Zambezi Valley. MSc in Ecology, University of Zambia.

Abstract. This study explores the pattern of interactions between seven species of weaver birds viz: the White Browed Sparrow Weaver (Plocepasser mahali), the Spotted Backed Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus), Cabanis's Masked Weaver (Ploceus intermedius), the Masked Weaver (Ploceus velutus) and three species of Quelea between Chirundu and the Chongwe River on the Zambian side of the Zambezi Valley. The seven species were studied in relation to their spatial distribution in the area, habitat factors and food habits. The aim was to find out what influences their selection of particular habitats. A sample of 76 nesting colonies of the different weavers were described. 14 habitat and nesting colony features were measured and were analysed using principle component analysis (PCA). Food habits were determined by field observations supplemented by stomach content analyses of 50 collected specimens. A significant difference in the size of the seeds utilized by different species was found. Changing patterns of exploitation of resources were observed and their implications on land-use discussed. 14 morphological characters of the birds were measured and analysed using numerical taxonomic methods. Bill and toe measurements were related to habitat and food preferences. Selection of the different habitats by weaver birds was considered to hinge on three complementary selection pressures, arising from habitat structure, food and presence of nesting sites. During the breeding season the distribution of the weavers is also influenced by the selection of predator free space and this factor may be more influencial. The weaver birds show different degrees of habitat isolation, varying from complete separation in Plocepasser mahali to differential niche overlap in the Ploceus and Quelea species. All the weaver hirds showed evidence of opportunistic feeding, overlaping in their use of seeds and other resources. The patterns of utilization of food resources depended on the abundance of food items at the time. Various adaptations such as flocking, habitat and dietary shifts, flexibility in habitat make it possible for the many similar species to occupy a limited and variable habitat without observable cases of direct competition.

The study was conducted mainly around Gwabi fishing lodge, along the Middle Zambezi Valley, on the Zambian side, from Nov 1988 - May 1989.

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