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: 10199
(Uploaded: 10199)

Total nests counted: 7916788

SESAW (Survival rates) records:
10469; 6 February 2013
Latest weaver reference: PAPER: White-winged Widowbird in South Sudan

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

Weaver Wednesday [97]: Baya Weaver

2014-04-23 (508)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

Baya Weaver Baya Weaver

The Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus is the most common and widespread weaver in Asia. The Baya Weaver breeding male has a bright yellow crown, dark brown mask, blackish bill, the upper parts are dark brown streaked with yellow, with a yellow breast and buff belly. Non-breeding males and females are dull coloured, resembling House Sparrows.

The Baya Weaver occurs eastern Pakistan to Vietnam and western Indonesia (see map below, based on Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 15).

Several subspecies of the Baya Weaver are recognised: Baya Weaver map
P. p. philippinus occurs on the Indus floodplain in Pakistan, most of India, southern Nepal and Sri Lanka (see yellow on map).
P. p. travancoreensis, occurs in SW India from Goa to Travancore (see green on map). The male is darker above and the breast is darker yellow than in the nominate.
P. p. burmanicus occurs in India (West Bengal, Assam), Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar (see purple on map). It is larger than the nominate, the male has a paler face and throat, and buff breast with darker mottling.
P. p. angelorum occurs in Thailand and Laos (see brown on map). This subspecies has a buff breast and black streaking on the upperparts.
P. p. infortunatus occurs in Myanmar to Vietnam, and south to Java and Bali (see light blue on map). This subspecies is more rufous on the upperparts, breast and flanks than in the other races. phown 7009

The Baya Weaver inhabits grassland, scrub with scattered trees, mangroves and cultivated areas. It is generally found in open country near water.

The Baya Weaver feeds on seeds, including those of grass, rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, millet and sunflowers. Insects include grasshoppers, flies, termites, beetles, caterpillars and butterflies. It also feeds on nectar, spiders, small snails, and rice frogs. Rice is often the most important food item. The Baya Weaver occupies midday roosts near the feeding grounds.

The Baya Weaver is polygynous, with 3-5 females per male. It is usually colonial, with up to 60 nests in a single tree and more than 200 in some colonies, but solitary nests may be found. It sometimes breeds in mixed colonies with other weavers. phown 7009

The nest is retort-shaped, and usually with a long entrance tunnel. It is woven by the male from strips of palm, grass or rice-plant leaves. The male builds a ring and then completes the roof, so that the nest resembles a helmet with a chinstrap. Blobs of mud are added to the nest, most probably for reinforcement. The nest is only completed if a female accepts it. The entrance tunnel is built last, often 40-65 cm or more in length. The nest is placed 2-30 m above the ground or water. More than 35 plant species have been used, but Acacias are often favoured. Often colonies are close to human habitation, and are also found on telephone lines. Nests are sometimes associated with wasps or aggressive ants. phown 5189

The eggs, most commonly clutch of 3, are white. The female incubates and feeds the chicks, although some males help feed in later stages. Nest predators include snakes, crows, and probably monkeys. Nest destruction by humans is probably the most important source of loss. Old nests are used by a varity of birds and animals, including Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata, Indian Silverbill Euodice malabarica, long-tailed tree mouse Vandeleuria oleracea, and nests abandoned at the helmet stage may be used as roost sites by painted bats Kerivoula picta.

There are ten PHOWN records for the Baya Weaver (see PHOWN summary), but many more are needed of this common species. Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

PHOWN summary           Previous Wedn: Gola Malimbe           Full weaver species list

PAPER: White-winged Widowbird in South Sudan

2014-04-21 (507)
Mallalieu M. 2013. First records for South Sudan of African Cuckoo Hawk , Icterine Warbler and White-winged Widowbird . Bulletin of the African Bird Club 20(1): 71-74.

Nikolaus (1987, Distribution atlas of Sudan's birds with notes on habitat and status) recorded the White-winged Widowbird as rare in the area now in South Sudan (along the border with Uganda) but he omitted this record in 1989 (Birds of South Sudan).

In this paper the author records several sightings of male White-winged Widowbirds in breeding plumage, east of the White Nile at Juba, in July and August 2012.

While the White-winged Widowbird is known from the Darfur region in Sudan, this appears to be the first confirmed record for South Sudan.

Map: yellow shows distribution based on Nikolaus (1987) and red shows confirmed distribution (2012 sightings).

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

First PHOWN records from Mauritius

2014-04-20 (506)
phown 9519

Pieter Cronje has submitted the first PHOWN records from Mauritius, involving 3 weaver species: Village Weaver, Madagascar Fody and Mauritius Fody. The Mauritius Fody record is the first PHOWN record for the species, but was not easy to find. Pieter writes: "After more than 200 kilometers in a car and after 5 hours with two unenthusiastic police officers I managed to get my first Mauritius Fody nest in the Black River gorge Nature reserve. Although I saw a few other Fodies I did not have the time to stalk them and find their nests". The Mauritius Fody is endemic to Mauritius and is a globally threatened species. The Mauritius Fody breeds from October to February, so Pieter's visit was not during its breeding season but he did find a nest attended by adults (PHOWN 9522).

The Village Weaver and Madagascar Fody are both introduced to Mauritius, and Pieter found many colonies and nests for these 2 species. Average colony size for the Village Weaver on Mauritius was 19.5 nests (range 1-120, n=101), which is lower than the average on mainland Africa at 36 nests (range 1-500, n=892). A variety of tree species were used as nest sites, including palm trees, as well as 3 colonies in bamboos.

See all the PHOWN records from Mauritius here.

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.

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