Weaver news

PAPER: Sex of Taveta Golden Weaver chicks

2012-06-18 (227)

Breeding S, Ferrie GM, Schutz P, Leighty KA, Plasse C. 2012. Hand-rearing and sex determination tool for the Taveta Golden Weaver (Ploceus castaneiceps). Zoo Biology online phown 997

Abstract. Improvements in the ability to hand-rear birds in captivity have aided zoological institutions in the sustainable management of these species, and have provided opportunities to examine their physical growth in varying conditions. Monitoring the weight gain and development of chicks is an important aspect of developing a handrearing protocol. In this paper we provide the institutional history for a colonial species of passerine, the Taveta golden weaver, at Disney's Animal Kingdom, in order to demonstrate the methods of establishing a successful breeding program which largely incorporates hand-rearing in management of the population. We also tested if we could accurately predict sex of chicks using weights collected on Day 14 during the hand-rearing process. Using this tool, we were able to correctly determine sex before fledging in more than 83% of chicks. Early sex determination is important in captive species for genetic management and husbandry purposes. While genetic sexing can be expensive, we found that using growth curves to determine sex can be a reliable and cost-effective tool for population management of a colonial passerine.

Photo: Taveta Golden Weaver in the wild, see VM 997

Male nestlings on day 14 were heavier than female nestlings, with little overlap, but sample sizes were small (7 males, 13 females). Little is known about this range restricted species - see a summary of breeding information under the PHOWN species page here.