Weaver, White-headed Buffalo


Dinemellia dinemelli


Adult length: 22 in (19 cm); appearance & coloration: white head and underparts contrast vividly with its red rump and under tail coverts; the difference between the sexes is minimal. The male is slightly larger, and makes a different and louder sound.

Family

Ploceidae

Order

Passeriformes

Class

Aves

Range

Sub-Saharan Africa: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda

Habitat

Savanna and acacia forests

Life Expectancy

Unknown

Sexual Maturity

1 year

Diet

In the wild, they eat small and medium seeds of grasses and shrubs including acacia, small insects, and small fruits; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available low iron pelleted softbill diet and moist meat diet, assorted fruits & vegetables, and insects.

Status

IUCN – Least Concern

Behaviors

White-headed buffalo weavers are usually seen in small flocks or family parties. They feed, usually on the ground, in open grassy areas and are often found in mixed species flocks that include other weaverbirds and starlings. They often are seen in areas used by African buffalo, feeding on the insects stirred up or seeds knocked loose by the buffalo, hence the name “buffalo weaver”. They are noisy and conspicuous when climbing about in trees and reminiscent of parrots with their acrobatic maneuvers and habit of hanging upside down. They can be very aggressive towards other species in their territories, but altercations are usually vocal and seldom fatal. This species is monochromatic and monomorphic, making sexual identification difficult. Both cocks and hens are bold, so behavior is not much of a clue, either. Buffalo weavers nest in open, loose colonies. The nest is built high in a tree in a fork of branches. It is a large, rather untidy structure of twigs and coarse grasses, the short tubular entrance being on the bottom. Fine grasses and feathers provide a warm lining and both birds work on the construction. Clutch size ranges from 3-5 eggs. Greenish white in color, they are sometimes marked with red or brown spots and streaks are the cap end. Incubation lasts 14 days and the young, fed mostly on insects and small seeds, fledge in about 3 weeks.

Adaptions

Weavers are among the bird world’s best architects. A large grassy nest usually contains several rooms, which the bird enters from below. The weaver lines the branches leading to the nest and the nest itself with thorny twigs as a defense against predators.

Special Interests

The family Ploceidae, or weavers, are small passerine birds related to the finches. They get their name because of their elaborately woven nests (the most elaborate of any bird). Other birds like African pygmy falcons often use weaver nests instead of building their own.

Folklore

Conservation

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Jacksonville Zoo History

This buffalo weaver was found at the Jacksonville Zoo from 1993 to 2003 and was brought back into our collection in 2010. The Jacksonville Zoo has successfully bred this species.

Exhibit

Plains of East Africa