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2012-05-25
Oldest Sociable Weaver – A new longevity record - South Africa.


A new longevity record for Sociable Weaver’s – Philetairus socius – of over 16 years. The bird was ringed by Mark Anderson on 29 April 1995 as an adult on Benfontein Game Reserve, Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa. It has been recaptured several times, the most recent time being by Rita Covas on 2 August 2010.

Sociable Weaver

The Sociable Weaver - Philetairus socius - is endemic to Southern Africa. The species ranges across northwestern South Africa, southwest Botswana and extending northwards across Namibia. The area is semi-arid with low and unpredictable rainfall occurring mostly in the summer.

Description

A buff brown bird with a conspicuous black chin and its whitish underparts. They have blackish back and wings, and buff brown rump. A scaled pattern on back, nape and wings coverts. The tail is blackish with buff median tail feathers. Underparts are buff white. Flanks present scaly pattern forming a patch of bold black chevrons. The crown is buff brown and nape shows scaled pattern. Chin is black, and this colour extends to lores forming a black mask. Cheeks are whitish. These birds have a strong conical bill which is bluish grey, eyes are dark brown and the legs and feet are bluish grey. Sexes are similar.

Call

The call is a chattering “chicker-chicker”, often given in flight.

Food

It mainly eats seeds, supplemented with termites and other insects, foraging in large flocks which pluck food from the ground.

Breeding

Breeding may occur any time of the year and is closely linked to rainfall. They may skip breeding during years when there is low rainfall. They build large compound community nests, a rarity among birds. These nests are perhaps the most spectacular structure built by any bird and are large enough to house over a hundred pairs of birds. The nests are highly structured, the central chambers retain heat and are used for nighttime roosting. The outer rooms are used for daytime shade. Sociable weaver nests are used commensally by several other bird species, most commonly the Pygmy Falcon.

Sociable weaver’s exhibit delayed onset of breeding, sometimes up to two years of age. The female lays between 2 to 6 eggs, which are incubated for between 13 to 15 days by both sexes. The chicks are brooded continuously by both parents for the first 10 to14 days and are assisted with feeding the chicks by up to 9 helpers. They leave the nest after about 23 days, remaining dependent on their parents for food for between 30 to 45 days.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

Not threatened, in fact its population has increased substantially over the past 100 years, as it has moved into treeless areas where it uses artificial structures such as electricity pylons and other man-made structures as nest sites.

Birdwatching

Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create an Aves custom tour for you or book on the following scheduled Aves Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure: -

Aves Arid Tour/Safari/Adventure.


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