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Weaver Wednesday [1]: Red-headed Weaver

2012-06-20 (229)

Welcome to the first Weaver Wednesday. Today the focus is on the Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps, a striking weaver bird with bright red head in the breeding plumage of males. In West and East Africa the male has a black mask; one race in East Africa has a red plumage. The female is yellowish or brownish. Both sexes have a distinctive thin pinkish orange bill. This species is one of a handful of weavers that is widespread on the African continent, being found in woodland in West, East, central and southern Africa. There has been some confusion about the scientific name of this species, which is Anaplectes rubriceps (read more here).

The Red-headed Weaver has a distinctive nest that is constructed of flexible twigs, leaf petioles and tendrils (rather than green grass as in most Ploceus weavers). Several nests may be present at one site, consisting of nests of previous breeding seasons. Sometimes it is colonial, and large colonies have occasionally been reported (see report about largest colony here). This species often builds its nests on man-made structures, including telephone lines and the roof edges of buildings. PHOWN currently has 36 records, 30 of which include a nest count - see here. There are PHOWN records from southern and eastern Africa, but none from West Africa yet. This species is reasonably easy to photograph at the nest, so please send in records with nest counts.

Photo (above): the most recent PHOWN record of a Red-headed Weaver, photographed by David Gitau - this record is from Tanzania, VM 2397 - the black mask is found in subspecies leuconotos.

In South Africa it is present at a low density throughout its range. The reporting rate in both SABAP1 and SABAP2 was rarely over 50% for any grid.

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