Ugandan Birds: The Weaver Birds

yellow backed weaver

There around 113 described weaver species in the world and 40 of them are represented in Uganda making it a one country destination for bird watching. Placed by some authorities in the same family as the closed related sparrows, you may not notice the difference and you may mistake the weaver to be a sparrow and vice versa.

Twenty five of the Ugandan species are placed in the genus Ploceus (True Weavers) which is surely the most characteristic of all African genera. Most of the Ploceus weavers are slightly larger than sparrows and display a strong sexual dimorphism.

The ploceidae family derives its name from the intricate and elaborate nests they build-typically but not always a roughly oval ball of dried grass, reeds and twigs. This is usually built by the male of most species

The first step it has to do is to choose the site where the nest has to be, usually at the end of a thin hanging branch which is immediately stripped of leaves to protect it against snakes. The weaver then flies back and forth the site, carrying the building materials blade by blade in it’s beak. It first uses a few thick strands to hang a skeletal nest from the end of the branch, and then gradually it completes the structure by interweaving numerous thinner blades of grass in to the main frame. Once the nest is completed, it has to be inspected by the chosen partner.

You can not believe it but if the nest is not satisfactory she tears it apart and the poor male thing has to start the process all over again!

Identifying Uganda Weaver birds

Male Ploceus weavers conform to the basic color pattern of predominantly yellow with streaky back and wings and a distinct black facial mask but most of the times it can be orange.

Others can have chestnut brown mask or a full black head or a black back or being more chestnut than yellow on the belly.The female weavers are with few exceptions are olive brown with some streaking on the back and a tint of yellow on the belly.

The golden weavers of which only two species are present in Uganda are also brilliant yellow or light orange with some light streaking on the back and they don’t have the mask.

The Fox weaver (Ploceus spekeoides) is the only bird species endemic to Uganda. It is larger than the average yellow-masked weaver with an olive back, yellow eyes and orange black face mask. These are confined to acacia woodland near swamps and Lake Kyoga.

The Ploceus alienus just like the name says strange weaver which has black head, plain olive back and yellow belly is found in the Albertine Rift in Uganda and they are only restricted to four sites.

Where you can find them.

The most extensive weaver colonies are often found in reed-beds and waterside vegetation. They are really impressive! You will be amazed by the distinctive song often heard around large weaver colonies.

In Uganda you can visit Entebbe Botanical Garden or Ngamba Island for the mixed species colonies as well as areas around wetlands, rivers and lakes.