Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Red-billed buffalo-weaver

Bubalornis niger

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Ploceidae

Range:
This African species occurs in two separate areas in sub-Saharan Africa. One population extends from Somalia and Ethiopia through to Tanzania and the other from southern D.R. Congo, Angola and Zambia to Namibia, Botswana, southern Mozambique and northern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 24 cm long and weigh 65-80 g.

Habitat:
Red-billed buffalo-weavers are found in dry savannas and sparse woodlands of Acacia and Adansonia, preferring areas disturbed by humans and livestock.

Diet:
They forage on the ground, taking various arthropods including Orthoptera, larval Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, Aranea and Scorpiones, but also various seeds and fruits.

Breeding:
These birds breed in colonies and the males may be polygamous, each controlling 1-8 nest chambers and up to about 3 females. They breed in September-June and the nest is a huge, bulky mass of interconnected thorny twigs, divided into separate complexes with multiple egg chambers, each with a nest built by a female, consisting of a ball of grass, leaves and roots. Each female lays 2-4 eggs, which she incubates alone for about 14 days. The chicks are mostly fed by the female alone and fledge 20-23 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The red-billed buffalo-weaver has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable and in fact it has benefited from the destruction, disturbance and settlement by humans in savannas.

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