Weavers
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Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver L: 24 cm (9") Buffalo-weavers are large, thickset weavers . The male Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver has dark plumage, red legs and a large, vermilion bill, whereas the female and juvenile are paler and streaky on the underparts . Both sexes show obvious white wing patches in flight . This species’ status in Kruger is variable: although there are some birds present throughout the year, most disperse in winter (May–August) and return to breed in spring and summer (September–April) . However, in drier years it may become nomadic . It is a fairly common, sociable bird, preferring drier woodlands that hold large trees for their sprawling and untidy communal nests . The breeding system is complex, and both polygyny (single male with several females) and co-operative breeding can occur . Although a number of birds share the nest, each individual defends a particular part against other buffalo-weavers, making for some fascinating interactions . Large raptors occasionally nest on top of buffalo-weaver nests, offering some protection . Buffaloweavers forage on the ground, often in association with starlings, searching for insects, seeds and fruits . Weavers are a large and diverse family of birds, and aptly named as many species build conspicuous and often elaborate and intricate woven nests. Weavers: 1 148 Thick-billedWeaver L: 18 cm (7") This is a large, chunky, dark brown and ‘shiny’ weaver with a very large bill . The male has a black bill and a white dash on the forehead and mid-wing; the smaller female is heavily streaked on the underparts and has a horn-coloured bill . This is a scarce but widespread resident in Kruger, breeding in reedbeds and wetlands in spring and summer . In winter (June–August) some individuals form non-breeding flocks and move into woodland and forest or disperse outside the park . It forages for seeds, fruits and insects, often on the ground . SpectacledWeaver L: 16 cm (6·5") A smallish, neat, slim-billed weaver with plain green wings and back, yellow underparts and a thin, black ‘bandit’s’ mask surrounding the yellow eye . Both sexes have a light orange facial wash, and males have a black throat patch . Fairly common in riverside habitats throughout Kruger and is often first noticed by its distinctive downward “tee-tee-tee-tee-tee” calls . Although pairs are often seen, it is not a particularly gregarious species and neither forms flocks nor nests in large colonies . It is mostly insectivorous but will also eat nectar and fruits . BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS male female female male 149 Lesser Masked-Weaver L: 13 cm (5") This masked-weaver is Kruger’s only species with a whitish eye: look for the eye colour first on any weaver you see . It is also the most dainty and diminutive weaver in the park . In breeding plumage, the male’s black mask extends well onto the crown . The female is nondescript, but has a distinctive pale eye and white belly . This species is a widespread and locally common resident in Kruger, and is found in many camps, favouring riverine thickets in arid savannah . Outside the breeding season it forms large, nomadic flocks that roam widely . It feeds on invertebrates, nectar, flowers, fruits and small seeds . The three‘masked-weavers’are all polygynous (a male breeding with several females) and colonial breeders. The males jointly defend an area in which they build pendulous nests woven of grass, reed and palm strips. A female will inspect the nests of several males until she finds a favourite; she will then mate with the builder and lay eggs within his section of the colony. Colonial nesting is a defence mechanism against predators, although brood parasitism (when another bird species lays its eggs in the host’s nest) by cuckoos still occurs. Masked-weavers all call a similar series of‘radio static’churring, buzzing and swizzling notes at their colonies. Weavers: 2 female male 150 VillageWeaver L: 16 cm (6·5") This is Kruger’s largest masked-weaver. The male is told by the heavily blotched black-and-yellow upperparts and black face; the female by the long bill, deep redbrown eyes and pale yellow eyebrows. It is an abundant resident of wetland, riverine and woodland areas throughout Kruger. Although naturally it feeds on seeds and invertebrates, it will gladly partake of an easy meal at a rest camp or picnic area. Camps also provide excellent nesting areas, as they have fewer predators. Southern Masked-Weaver L: 14 cm (5·5") A medium-sized...


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