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Weaver Wednesday [38]: Southern Brown-throated Weaver

2013-03-06 (338)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

Southern Brown-throated Weaver Southern Brown-throated Weaver Southern Brown-throated Weaver

The Southern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus xanthopterus is a small weaver, with a short tail. The breeding male is the only weaver in its range with a brown face and throat which are demarcated from the yellow head. Females, non-breeding males and young birds have a distinct cinnamon wash on the upperparts, and the bill is two-toned. It does not overlap in range with the similar Northern Brown-throated Weaver of East Africa.

There are three subspecies of the Southern Brown-throated Weaver, with disjunct distributions (see map left, based on Birds of Africa):
P. x. xanthopterus, found in Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique south to the Zambezi River, and NE Zimbabwe (see green on map).
P. x. castaneigula, in the Caprivi in Namibia, the Okavango in Botswana and the upper Zambezi River (see blue on map). This subspecies is larger than the nominate race, and the male has the crown orange-yellow, in contrast to the green mantle.
P. x. marleyi, in Mozambique from the Save River, southwards, SE Zimbabwe, South Africa (see red on map). In this subspecies the male has the crown bright yellow, with little contrast with the mantle; and the throat is tawny rather than chestnut.

Southern Brown-throated Weaver map

There is one out of range record, Nest Record Card 100170, from Chiredzi in SE Zimbabwe.

The Southern Brown-throated Weaver inhabits reeds and tall aquatic vegetation in wetlands. It forages in nearby riparian forest and other dense vegetation, but usually not far from water. It is usually found in small flocks (less than 20 birds), and it rarely associates with other weavers. Like other weavers, it undergoes a complete moult after breeding, but males start moulting while there are still eggs and chicks in nests. The furthest distance moved (from ringing data) is 8 km, and the oldest bird is 13 years (see here).

The diet of the Southern Brown-throated Weaver is seeds, including grasses; berries; insects including moths, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars; flowers; and also bread in gardens.

The Southern Brown-throated Weaver is colonial, with 10-300 nests per colony. It is polygynous, with males attracting 2-3 females. Females are double-brooded (in Malawi), using a new nest for the second clutch. The nest is an oval, with the entrance below, and without a porch. Nests are mostly built in reedbeds of Phragmites, Typha or Papyrus and rarely in trees. One colony of 20-30 nests was placed in a small Acacia overhung a birdbath. It may nest alongside Southern Red Bishops.

The Southern Brown-throated Weaver has 9 PHOWN records, all small colonies. Many more PHOWN records are needed for this species (see PHOWN summary), especially to document colony size. Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

phown 1819 phown 4295

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