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: 12995
(Uploaded: 12995)

Total nests counted: 7943884

Latest weaver reference: PAPER: Survival rates of southern African birds

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
3 Sep 1906, Ploceus (Othyphantes) baglafecht alexanderi , Baglafecht Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [116]: Ibadan Malimbe

2014-09-03 (563)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis is a rare and local black-and-red malimbe. It is similar to the sympatric Red-vented Malimbe, both having a red head and breast and black face, but the Ibadan Malimbe has a black vent. The male Ibadan Malimbe is nearly identical to the male Cassin's Malimbe but their ranges do not overlap. The female Ibadan Malimbe is red on top of the head and has a narrow red collar and breast-band while the female Cassin's Malimbe has a black head, and the female Red-vented Malimbe has a black head and neck. The juvenile is sooty, with a dull orange breast-band, dark red-brown face patch, and tawny chin and throat.

The Ibadan Malimbe is found in SW Nigeria (see map below, based on Birds of Africa). Ibadan Malimbe  map

The Ibadan Malimbe inhabits forest patches, forest edges, secondary forest and woodland, often along tracks and openings in the forest. It also visits gardens and cultivated areas. Recent observations of foraging birds suggest a possible link with the kola tree Cola gigantea.

The diet of the Ibadan Malimbe includes insects, caterpillars, winged ants, alate termites and palm nuts. It forages primarily in the middle storey, searching leaves, flowers, and dry pods and leaf clusters. The Ibadan Malimbe does not cling to tree trunks like the nuthatch-weavers. It occurs in pairs or in small groups, and often joins mixed-species flocks with other forest weavers or birds.

The Ibadan Malimbe is monogamous and a solitary nester. The nest resembles an inverted sock, and has an entrance tunnel 20-25 cm long. The nest is woven from strips of palm leaves and tendrils of climbing plants. One male worked on two separate nests and the female lined one of them. In one case a second male assisted the primary male in nest construction. The nest is placed 12-20 m above the ground near the tip of a branch of a mature forest tree. Nests may be close to active wasp nests, or in the same tree as Red-headed Malimbe and Fork-tailed Drongo nests. The Ibadan Malimbe may be suffering from nesting competition by other malimbes, weavers or drongos that also nest in mature forest trees.

The eggs (clutch 1-2 eggs) are pale greenish-white with small dark brown spots and underlying lilac shading. Incubation is by the female, and chicks are fed by both parents.

There are no PHOWN records for the Ibadan 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: Lufira Masked Weaver           Full weaver species list

PAPER: Survival rates of southern African birds

2014-09-01 (562)
Collingham YC, Huntley B, Altwegg R, Barnard P, Beveridge OS, Gregory RD, Mason LR, Oschadleus HD, Simmons RE, Willis SG, Green RE. 2014. Prediction of mean adult survival rates of southern African birds from demographic and ecological covariates. Ibis online.

Abstract. Estimates of annual survival rates of birds are valuable in a wide range of studies of population ecology and conservation. These include modelling studies to assess the impacts of climatic change or anthropogenic mortality for many species for which no reliable direct estimates of survival are available. We evaluate the performance of regression models in predicting adult survival rates of birds from values of demographic and ecological covariates available from textbooks and databases. We estimated adult survival for 67 species using dead recoveries of birds ringed in southern Africa and fitted regression models using five covariates: mean clutch size, mean body mass, mean age at first breeding, diet and migratory tendency. Models including these explanatory variables performed well in predicting adult survival in this set of species, both when phylogenetic relatedness of the species was taken into account using phylogenetic generalized least squares (51% of variation in logit survival explained) and when it was not (48%). Two independent validation tests also indicated good predictive power, as indicated by high correlations of observed with expected values in a leave-one-out cross validation test performed using data from the 67 species (35% of variation in logit survival explained), and when annual survival rates from independent mark– recapture studies of 38 southern African species were predicted from covariates and the regression using dead recoveries (48%). Clutch size and body mass were the most influential covariates, both with and without the inclusion of phylogenetic effects, and a regression model including only these two variables performed well in both of the validation tests (39 and 48% of variation in logit survival explained). Our regression models, including the version with only clutch size and body mass, are likely to perform well in predicting adult survival rate for southern African species for which direct survival estimates are not available.

7 weavers were included in this study, and their survival rates (in descending order) were found to be:

66.5% Village Weaver
65.5% Cape Weaver
63.6% Thick-billed Weaver
62.8% Southern Masked Weaver
59.3% Southern Red Bishop
55.6% White-browed Sparrow-weaver
25.0% Red-billed Quelea

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weavers with long tails

2014-08-29 (561)

Eight weavers have tails longer than 100 mm, and these include the two Bubalornis buffalo-weavers and 6 widowbirds (males in breeding plumage). The tail length of the buffalo-weavers relative to their body size is not particularly large, however. 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).

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

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis albirostris

Genus Foudia

2014-08-28 (560)
The fodies are endemic to some Indian Ocean islands. There is no overlap of species, except for the Madagascar Fody which overlaps with all other fody species in at least a part of their range. The sexes differ in all species, although the difference is slight in the Seychelles Fody. Females and non-breeding males are dull coloured. The males of two species have yellow in the plumage, the others red, although some Madagascar and Aldabra Fody males are flavistic (red replaced by yellow feathers). The bill varies from conical to slender in different species.

Fodies inhabit forest although the Madagascar Fody is found in more open habitats.

The nest of all fodies is similar, being a globular structure with a side entrance near the top, often with a small porch over the entrance. Fody nests are more primitive than the nests of other weavers. Some fodies, and possibly all, build a roof on the nest, probably for waterproofing the nest.

Eggs are blue-green, and usually 3 are in a clutch, but the Seychelles Fody lays 1-2 white eggs. Incubation is by the female, and both sexes feed the nestlings.

The 7 living fody species:
Madagascar Fody Foudia madagascariensis
Forest Fody Foudia omissa
Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum - Seychelles
Aldabra Fody Foudia aldabrana - Aldabra
Comoro (Red-headed) Fody Foudia eminentissima - Comoros
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra - Mauritius
Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans - Rodrigues

Weaver Wednesday [115]: Lufira Masked Weaver

2014-08-27 (559)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Lufira Masked Weaver Ploceus ruweti breeding male has a black head and a strong chestnut wash on the breast and flanks, which distinguishes it from the Lesser Masked Weaver, Southern Masked Weaver, and Katanga Masked Weaver. It is also similar to the Tanganyika Masked Weaver but the black on the head of the Lufira Masked Weaver extends as far as the hind-crown. The female Lufira Masked Weaver is greenish above, dull yellow below and shows two wingbars.

The Lufira Masked Weaver is found at Lake Tshangalele (formerly Lake Lufira) and Kiubo Falls, c. 120 km downstream on the Lufira River, in DRCongo (see map below, based on Birds of Africa and recent information). Lufira Masked Weaver  map

The Lufira Masked Weaver inhabits riverside vegetation, but nests in ambatch and acacia trees, rather than in the reeds.

The diet of the Lufira Masked Weaver is seeds and insects, and the young are fed on insects.

The Lufira Masked Weaver is probably polygynous. Males are territorial and usually have 4-6 nests, but may have 3-20 nests in some sites. The nest is oval, with the entrance below and little or no spout. The nest is woven by the male from strips of material, and suspended from branches above the water. Two colonies were close to nests of the wasp Ropalidia cincta.

One clutch had 2 eggs, very pale green with brown spots, and spots concentrated at the thick end. Nothing else is known about its breeding habits.

There are no PHOWN records for the Lufira Masked 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: Comoro Fody           Full weaver species list
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