Ploceus capensis (Cape weaver) 

Kaapse wewer [Afrikaans]; Ihobo-hobo (generic term for weaver) [Xhosa]; Letholopje (also applied to Village weaver), Thaha (also applied to Southern masked weaver), Talane [South Sotho]; Kaapse wever [Dutch]; Tisserin du Cap [French]; Kapweber [German]; Tecel„o do Cabo [Portuguese]

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Ploceus capensis (Cape weaver)  Ploceus capensis (Cape weaver) 
Cape Weaver male, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©] Cape Weaver female, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, occurring across much of the area excluding the Kalahari Desert, generally preferring open grassland, lowland fynbos, coastal thicket and farmland, provided they have permanent water and trees.

Distribution of Cape weaver in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It (at various stages of development) has been recorded as prey of the following animals:

Nest are sometimes heavily infested with mites, and fledglings are sometimes parasitised by ticks.

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.

Food 

Omnivorous, as its diet it is pretty much equally split between arthropods and plant matter, especially seeds, fruit and nectar. It forages on the ground and in tree foliage, gleaning food from crevices in bark and hawking insects aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Arthropods
  • Plants
    • seeds
      • Acacia cyclops (Rooikrans)
      • Ehrhata (veldt grass)
      • barley
      • wheat
      • maize
      • peas
      • pine (Pinus) nuts
    • fruit
      • Ficus (wild figs)
      • Lycium ferocissimum (Snake-berry)
      • Olea europea (African olive)
      • figs
      • apricots
      • grapes
    • nectar
      • Aloe
      • Agave
      • Erythrina (coral-trees)
      • Salvia africana-lutea (Brown sage)
      • Schotia brachypetala (Weeping boer-bean)
      • Grevillea robusta (Silky oak)
    • whole flowers
      • Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle)
      • Strelitzia regina (Crane flower)
  • Human food, such as bread crumbs.

Breeding

  • Polygynous, territorial colonial nester, as males may have up to 7 female in one breeding season, usually living together in colonies of about 2-20 males. Each builds multiple nests within a small territory, which it vigorously defends against intruders. Females test how a sturdy a nest is by pulling at material in the inside; if it is accepted the female adopts a hunched posture in readiness for mating (see image below).
  • The nest (see images below) is built solely by the male in about 7 days, consisting of a kidney-shaped, fully waterproof structure made of woven broad strips of grass or reeds. If the female accepts it the male builds a vertical entrance tunnel at the base, while she lines the interior with fine grass and feathers. It is typically attached to the tip of a tree branch, especially of a Eucalyptus or willow (Salix), or alternatively in a bank of reeds (Phragmites) or Bulrushes (Typha capensis), on telephone lines or in in fences overlooking water.
Ploceus capensis (Cape weaver)  Ploceus capensis (Cape weaver) 
Ploceus capensis (Cape weaver) 
Cape weaver building its nest, South Africa. [photo Callie de Wet ©] Top right: Cape weavers mating, South Africa. [photo Callie de Wet ©]                                                                                                  Bottom right: Cape Weaver male at nest in a Eucalyptus tree, Kleinmond, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]
  • Egg-laying season is from June-February, peaking from October-January in summer rainfall areas, earlier from August-October in the Western Cape.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 13-14 days.
  • The chicks are brooded by the female for the first few nights of their lives, after which she roosts in an adjacent unused nest. They are initially fed mainly by the female, but later the male takes a greater role in providing food; the young leave the nest at about 17 days old.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact it is common and a pest to the orchards and croplands of the Western Cape, where it is sometimes killed in large numbers.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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