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Weaver Wednesday [86]: Giant Weaver

2014-02-04 (481)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Giant Weaver Ploceus grandis is a large weaver, the male's bill being larger than that of any other weaver. The male has a black head surrounded by chestnut, and resembles the Village Weaver, but the Giant Weaver has a pale eye (rather than red) and plain back (rather than streaked). The female Giant Weaver is dull coloured, and differs from the Village Weaver in having a pale eye, no supercilium, and buff breast (not yellow). In flight the Giant Weaver appears short and broad-winged.

The Giant Weaver is restricted to Sao Tome (see map below, based on Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 15). No subspecies of the Giant Weaver are recognised. A century ago it occurred on Ilheu das Rolas, a small island south of Sao Tome, but is now extinct there.

Giant Weaver map

The Giant Weaver inhabits natural forest, plantations (coffee, oil palm, coconut, bamboo, cocoa), and clumps of woodland. It is rare in savanna, and common in degraded habitats, especially in the lowlands.

The Giant Weaver feeds on grass seeds, crushed nuts of cocoa trees, fruit, and berries. It also feeds on insects like beetles, and even snails have been recorded. The Giant Weaver feeds at all levels in vegetation, and sometimes on the ground. It forages singly, in pairs and in small parties, but does not join mixed-species flocks.

The Giant Weaver is a monogamous, highly territorial, solitary nester. The male may beat his wings in perched display near the nest. The nest is a large untidy ball with no entrance tunnel. It is built with strips of palm leaves, and is supported below branches and well hidden. The nest is placed in palm or other tall trees. The clutch is 1-2 eggs, which are plain blue. Nothing else is known about its breeding cycle.

There are no PHOWN records for the Giant Weaver yet (see PHOWN summary). Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

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