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
Fan-tailed Widow on UCT Summer School banner

Accepted: 28501
(Uploaded: 28444)

Total nests counted: 8098827

Latest weaver links:
156 Holub's Golden Weaver - feed on nectar
155 Thick-billed Weaver display
154 Dark-backed Weaver taking nectar

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
13 Nov 1928, Sycobrotus bicolor sclateri , Dark-backed Weaver

Latest weaver news

Latest PHOWN species - Crested Malimbe

2018-10-14 (827)
The newest PHOWN species to be added is a record of the Crested Malimbe. Maans Booysen photographed a Crested Malimbe building its nest in Kakum Forest in Ghana earlier this year. The subspecies in West Africa (nigrifrons) has a smaller crest than the nominate.

phown record
Crested Malimbe at nest,
figure from PHOWN

PHOWN now has records of 94 of the 117 weaver species (80%). The weavers without PHOWN records are listed below - for some the nest has not even been described yet, while for some nests should be easy to find and photograph. (click on the species to read more about it).

Finn's Weaver Vulnerable
Black-breasted Weaver
Streaked Weaver
Red-headed Fody
Forest Fody
Bob-tailed Weaver
Northern Red Bishop common
Fire-fronted Bishop
Hartlaub's Marsh Widowbird
Jackson's Widowbird locally common
Montane Marsh Widowbird
Bates's Weaver nest unknown
Cassin's Malimbe
Gola Malimbe
Rachel's Malimbe
Maxwell's Black Weaver
Yellow-legged Weaver nest unknown
Golden-naped Weaver nest unknown
Red-bellied Malimbe
Yellow-capped Weaver rare
Preuss's Weaver
Fox's Weaver rare
Bertram's Weaver locally common
Giant Weaver locally common

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).

Weavers with blue eggs

2018-10-11 (826)
There are 18 species of weavers that usually only lay pure blue eggs. Blue or blue-green eggs are very widespread in birds generally, resulting from the predominant deposition of the pigment biliverdin (Walters 2006a). Many other weavers lay eggs with a variety of colours, so some individual females may lay pure blue eggs, while other individuals of the same species lay eggs of various colours and markings.

The list below includes two quelea, three fodies, two bishops, and 11 other weavers.

See also white eggs.

Southern Red Bishop eggs

Weavers with blue or blue-green eggs:

Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea - rarely with spotting
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra
Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans
Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis
Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix - rarely with spotting

Nelicourvi Weaver Ploceus nelicourvi - rarely with spotting
Sakalava Weaver Ploceus sakalava

Sao Tome Weaver Ploceus sanctithomae
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps

Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
Bocage's Weaver Ploceus temporalis
Speke's Weaver Ploceus spekei - rarely with spotting
Giant Weaver Ploceus grandis
Principe Golden Weaver Ploceus princeps
Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus - rarely with spotting

Weavers with eggs that are plain blue or sometimes plain white:

Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor
Olive-headed Weaver Ploceus olivaceiceps

Nesting in Asian weavers

2018-09-28 (825)
The 5 Asian weavers weave their nests as other true weavers do, and the male does most of the building, and females line the nests. Asian weavers may use mud and flowers in their nests, and various theories have been proposed to explain this - the most likely reason is that the male uses mud to attach flowers to the nest. Some differences in the nesting of the 5 species are listed in the table below.

Factor Asian Golden W Baya W Bengal W Finn's W Streaked W
Pair bond Monogamous Polygnous Polygnous Polygnous Monogamous
Colonial Small Colonial Single, small Colonial Colonial
Nest site Reeds in swamps Trees, esp palm
& acacia
Reeds, some trees Trees, reeds Reeds, trees
Nest tunnel no long long no short
Attachment supported pendant supported supported supported
Mud used no rarely often rarely rarely

phown 5189
Baya Weaver colony - note pendant
(hanging) nests, with long
entrance tubes
phown 1255
Asian Golden Weaver colony - note supported
nests, no long entrance tubes

Red-billed Quelea flocks

2018-08-21 (824)
On 20 Nov 2017 I was on farm Swebe-Swebe in Limpopo Province watching vast flocks of quelea flying into their roost in extensive reedbeds along a river. As I was videoing and watching in amazement, I pondered how many quelea there could be in this roost, coming from the surrounding savanna. Compact flocks seemed to contain tens to hundreds of birds each in a never-ending stream. A screen shot from the video allowed me to estimate a conservative 300 birds per second passing, so in one hour that comes to about a million quelea. No wonder this is considered the most numerous bird on the planet!

Red-billed Quelea flocks arriving at roost at dusk. The first clip shows a raptor flying above the flock but not able to single out a bird. The second clip shows birds veering out from the stream to settle in the reeds and trees along the river, while the rest continue to settle some distance away.

Top SAFRING ringing sites over 70 years

2018-08-15 (823)
This quick summary shows the top degree-minute grids for each major region (South African province, main African countries with data) in the SAFRING database. No checking has been done, so there are likely to be some errors. Also, some ringing localities may cover two grids, but this query is strictly totals by grid (rather than by locality). These numbers depend very much on where ringers have ringed a lot over the decades.

Table 1 shows the grid with the most number of species ringed in that grid (per region).

Species Grid Region Locality
207 2633S2536E NW Barberspan
192 1616S3455E mw Nchalo sugar estate
182 2949S3033E KZ Tala bush
147 2535S2820E GP Nokeng Buffelsdrift
140 2438S2840E NP Nylsvlei NR
135 0952N0858E ng Amurum
132 2504S2923E MP Leeuwlaagte; Groblersdal
127 1802S2051E na Shamvura
126 1736S3055E zw Muruwati farm, Mazoe distr
120 2112S2732E bw Botshabelo
115 1501S2808E zm Huntleys Farm, Chisamba
103 3318S2630E EC Grahamstown Rhodes, Bot
97 3404S1830E WC Rondevlei
88 2704S2707E FS Lisbon
84 3002S2403E NC Dwaalhoek farm

Table 2 shows the total number of birds ringed per grid for each region.

Ringed Grid Region Locality
72533 2633S2536E NW Barberspan
48247 3350S2617E EC Seal Point
31293 3303S1755E WC Malgas Island, Saldanha
30962 2543S2810E GP Skinner Spruit, Pretoria
25229 2935S3026E KZ Darvill Sewage Works
20944 2234S1706E na Klein Windhoek
13223 1501S2808E zm Huntleys Farm, Chisamba
13210 2907S2610E FS Universitas, Bloemfontein
11449 2012S2343E bw Boteti River, SE of Maun
10675 1616S3455E mw Nchalo sugar estate
5926 2845S2446E NC McGregor Museum Gardens
5824 1950S2815E zw Nyamandhlovu
4458 2720S3008E MP Wakkerstroom
4210 2508S2810E NP Wolfhuiskraal, Boskamp
3559 0952N0858E ng Amurum

Barberspan is the top site for number of species and number of birds ringed. This is due to high ringing effort in the 1960s in ringing waterbirds, combined with the effort of ringing in recent years using mistnets as well as walk-in traps for waders and waterbirds. Several regions have the same site as top grid for species and totals ringed.

SAFRING celebrates its 70th anniversary this month, the first birds to be ringed were some Cape Vultures ringed in August 1948. Read a short history of bird ringing in southern Africa at the Biodiversity and Development Institute web site.

First ringing session (1948)

Barberspan workshop (2011)

SAFRING ringing totals by year
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