- History and Culture
The village weaver also known as the spotted-backed weaver or black-headed weaver is a species in the family Ploceidae that can be found throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa, and has been introduced to Hispaniola, Mauritius and Réunion. The bird measures 15–17 centimeters, has a strong conical bill and dark reddish eyes. In Mauritius and other parts of its southern range, breeding males have a black face and throat with a yellow nape and crown, a black bill, black and yellow upperparts and wings, and yellow underparts. In contrast, non-breeding males have a yellow head with an olive crown, a greyish back and whitish underparts with yellow and black wings. The adult female has pale yellow and streaked olive upperparts, and yellow and black wings. Juveniles resemble females but have browner backs.
Village weavers are adapted to a range of habitats which can be open or semi-open from woodlands to human populated areas. The species feeds primarily on seeds and grains, but will also eat insects, especially when feeding offspring. Its call includes harsh buzzes and chattering.
The village weaver is a gregarious species, foraging and roosting in large groups, often with other weaver species. The birds forage on the ground and may also search for food in vegetation and higher up on trees. Village weavers are well-known from their large noisy colonies and make large, coarsely woven, suspended nests made of grass and leaf strips with a downward facing entrance. Colony sizes may vary, but may sometimes comprise 200 nests, upwards.
During the breeding season, birds make a lot of noise by flying in and leaving constantly. The male is responsible for weaving the structure of the nest using long strips of leaf taken from palms or large grass species. The spherical nest consists of a nesting chamber, an antechamber and an entrance at the bottom. The nest requires hundreds of long strips of leaf collected and transported by the male one by one. When females enter the colony, males attract them by hanging below nest entrances, calling, flapping wings and revealing yellow wing linings. The females contribute to nest-building only in adding the lining with short, thatched strips of palm, grass and feathers. Village weavers are polygynous, with one male tending to up to five nests each with one female simultaneously; while females have been observed to change mates several times. The females lay 2 to 3 eggs and are responsible for incubation as well as most of the feeding. The incubation period lasts for approximately 12 days.
The village weaver is listed as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Species. The species is not globally threatened, as it is one of the most abundant and widespread species of weavers throughout Africa. In Mauritius where it was introduced, it is widespread.
A single male can build more than 20 nests in a season; unused or old nests may be regularly destroyed if not accepted by a female.