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: 28305
(Uploaded: 28266)

Total nests counted: 8096744

Latest weaver links:
153 Northern Red Bishop male
152 White-billed Buffalo-Weaver family
151 Wb Sparrow-Weaver feeding juvenile

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
21 Sep 1894, Ploceus fulleborni , Bertram's Weaver

Latest weaver news

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

PHOWN records from Eritrea

2018-06-11 (822)
PHOWN records in Asmara, Eritrea

In early June 2018 Pieter Cronje visited Asmara in Eritrea and found a large number of weaver nests. Most nests he found were Baglafecht Weaver nests, and a few were Village Weaver nests. Together with Ruppell's Weaver, these are the most common Ploceus weavers in Eritrea.

Although there were two PHOWN records from Eritrea previously, Pieter's sample has increased the number to over 100. This puts Eritrea in tenth place for number of PHOWN records per country (see country totals).

Interestingly, most of the Baglafecht Weaver nests were found in palm trees, a nesting site known for this species (although as a site used occasionally). The nests of this weaver are built underneath the palm fronds, often near the trunk but sometimes closer to the tip of the frond.

Baglafecht Weaver nests in palm tree

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).

Ringing at Fynbos Estate (Paardeberg), 25-27 May 2018

2018-05-29 (821)
Some of the birds ringed at Fynbos Estate

The first ever ringing trip at Fynbos Estate, Paardeberg, was undertaken on 26-27 May 2018. Barry and Sue Schultz, Les Underhill and Dieter Oschadleus spent the weekend in the Black Eagle cottage to ring near the cottage area. There was a reed patch where weavers roosted and visited during the day, and there was a row of trees and bushes, both areas resulting in a steady flow of birds. The top species for ringing were Cape Weaver (n=62), Cape White-eye (51), and Cape Robin (14). We were surprised at the diversity of species caught: 24 species in total, including all 3 South African mousebirds, 4 weaver species, 2 shrike species and 2 sunbird species. The star species was the Cardinal Woodpecker, with 2 males being caught (surprisingly one was caught in the nets at the reeds!).

Les put a "moth trap" at night to photogrpah moths for LepiMap.
Cape Weavers in the palm tree at the farm house were already building new nests.
Thanks to Diana and Johan Simms for a wonderful weekend!

List of birds recorded at Fynbos Estate, 25-27 May 2018: also numbers ringed, and a link to birdpix for those photographed

Black Eagle cottage with nets along tree lines

Reed patch with nets

Barry and Sue hard at work

birdpix 54023
Cardinal Woodpecker, male

Malachite Sunbird, male

Red-eyed Dove

Cape Weaver colony

ADU no. Species Ringed Birdpix
55 Blackheaded Heron
84 Hadeda Ibis
89 Egyptian Goose
133 Black Eagle 54059
142 Martial Eagle 54062
152 Jackal Buzzard 54048,
181 Cape Spurfowl
192 Helmeted Guineafowl 54047
311 Speckled Pigeon 54063
314 Red-eyed Dove 1 54246
316 Cape Turtle Dove
317 Laughing Dove 54051
368 Spotted Eagle Owl
373 Fierynecked Nightjar
390 Speckled Mousebird 1 54034
391 White-backed Mousebird 1 54035
392 Red-faced Mousebird 11 54026
450 Cardinal Woodpecker 2 54044,
522 Pied Crow
524 White-necked Raven
543 Cape Bulbul 7 54025
553 Olive Thrush 2
570 Familiar Chat 54147
576 Stonechat 1 53915,
581 Cape Robin 14 54027
618 Grassbird
622 Bar-throated Apalis 2 54031
646 Levaillant's Cisticola 1
658 Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler
665 Fiscal Flycatcher 3 54060,
672 Cape Batis 5 54110,
686 Cape Wagtail 54052
703 Orangethroated Longclaw
707 Fiscal Shrike 4 54045,
709 Southern Boubou 1 54028
722 Bokmakierie
733 Common Starling 54057
745 Red-winged Starling 54054
749 Cape Sugarbird 54061
751 Malachite Sunbird 3 54046
760 Southern Double-collared Sunbird 1 54056,
784 House Sparrow 54055,
786 Cape Sparrow 54151
787 Southern Grey-headed Sparrow 1
799 Cape Weaver 62 54053
803 Southern Masked Weaver 11 54025
808 Southern Red Bishop 6
810 Yellow Bishop 9 54029
857 Cape Canary 54058
865 White-throated Canary
873 Cape Bunting
1172 Cape White-eye 50 54150
4139 Karoo Prinia 1

Bowwood (Paardeberg) repeat ringing, 21-22/04/2018

2018-04-23 (820)
Ringing sites were around the farm house, surrounding vineyards, and woodland patches
The second ringing trip to on Bowwood Farm, Paardeberg, was undertaken on 22 April 2018, 3.5 weeks since the previous visit. The top species was Cape White-eye again (n=26), but no white-eye recaptures. The table below compares the species totals from the 2 trips.
Nearly the same total number of birds was caught on both trips with 6 species caught both times. The April trip yielded more species, however, since nets were scattered over a wider area. Interesting catches included a Cape Batis and some Swee Waxbills. Four birds were recaptured: 1 Olive Thrush, 2 Karoo Prinias (clearly a pair, being caught at the same time on each trip), and 1 Southern Masked Weaver.

Thanks to Julian and Bridget Johnsen for hosting us!

birdpix 52468
Cape Batis male
Swee Waxbill male
Swee Waxbill female

Species March April
White-backed Mousebird 1 0
Cape Robin 3 2
Olive Thrush 5 3
Cape Bulbul 0 1
Fiscal Flycatcher 0 1
Cape Batis 0 1
Karoo Prinia 2 2
Southern Double-collared Sunbird 0 1
Cape White-eye 22 26
Cape Weaver 3 2
Southern Masked Weaver 8 3
Southern Red Bishop 0 1
Swee Waxbill 0 3
Streaky-headed Canary 1 0
TOTALS 45 46
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