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Weaver Wednesday 4 [264] - Weaver themes [1]: Buffalo Weavers

2017-07-04 (789)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Buffalo Weavers

There are two weaver genera that contain buffalo weavers:
the black buffalo weavers, Bubalornis, with two species that have red or white bills,
and the white buffalo weavers, Dinemellia, with one species.

Although these species are in different genera, there are some similarities between them. The buffalo weavers are large weavers, they are social, and they are found largely in dry savanna. They build bulky, untidy domed nests of thorny branches in large trees (often Baobabs).

The Bubalornis species are unique in the weaver family in having a phalloid organ on the belly. The sexes are dimorphic in plumage, with females being dark brown. They are cooperative breeders, and their nests contain several chambers. These birds feed on the ground on seeds and insects.

The Dinemellia species is unique in the weaver family in its white plumage with orange-red patches on the wing shoulder, rump and undertail-coverts. The sexes are similar in plumage. They may be cooperative breeders, and their nests contain a single chamber. These birds feed on insects, seeds and fruit.

Origin of the name "Buffalo Weavers"

Andrew Smith first used the genus Bubalornis, meaning "buffalo bird". He based this on his observation of Red-billed Buffalo Weavers associating with buffalo along the Great Marico River. Smith appears to have seen the birds feeding on buffalo, but this has not been reliably recorded again. Smith was a reliable observer, and he knew both species of oxpecker, which he observed with rhinos, so he must have seen unusual behaviour. A more apt name for these weavers would be Baobab Weavers, due to their frequent use of these trees as nesting sites!

The buffalo weavers:

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis albirostris
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli

The Bubalornis species

White-billed Buffalo-Weaver
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from wikipedia
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Birdpix

The Dinemellia species

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Birdpix