Ploceus ocularis (Spectacled weaver) 

Brilwewer [Afrikaans]; Ikreza [Xhosa]; iGelegekle, iGeleja [Zulu]; Jesa (generic name for weaver) [Shona]; Sowa (generic term for weaver) [Tsonga]; Thaga (generic term for weaver) [Tswana]; Brilwever [Dutch]; Tisserin à lunettes [French]; Brillenweber [German]; Tecelão-de-lunetas [Portuguese]

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Ploceus ocularis (Spectacled weaver)  Ploceus ocularis (Spectacled weaver) 

Spectacled weaver male, South Africa. [photo Tony Faria ©]

Spectacled weaver female, Waterberg, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Ethiopia to Cameroon south through southern DRC, Zambia, Angola and Tanzania to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and eastern and south-eastern South Africa, but scarce in northern Botswana and Namibia. It generally prefers well-wooded habitats with dense undergrowth, such as forest edges, woodland, vegetation along rivers in thornveld,  bushed valleys and gardens.

Distribution of Spectacled 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.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.

Food 

It mainly eats insects supplemented with nectar and fruit, doing most of its foraging in vegetation, gleaning prey from bark and leaves. It also hawks termite alates aerially, and often joins mixed-species foraging flocks along with other insectivorous and frugivorous birds. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
  • Plants
    • nectar
      • Aloe marlothii (Mountain aloe)
      • Aloe ferox (Bitter aloe)
      • Tecoma capensis (Cape honeysuckle)
      • Schotia brachypetala (Weeping boer-bean)
      • Erythrina latissima (Broad-leaved coral-tree)
    • fruit
  • Bread and bird seed at bird feeders

Breeding

  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, as pairs stay bonded over multiple breeding seasons, possibly for life.
  • The nest is built solely by the male or occasionally by both sexes in about 2-3 weeks, consisting of a retort-shaped structure with an exceptionally long vertical entrance tunnel, usually 10-20 but sometimes 60cm long! It is usually woven from thin strips of plant material, but it may be built with only pine (Pinus) needles or horse hair. It is typically attached to the tip of a branch or creeper, especially if overlooking a stream, rarely using a patch of reeds or grass instead.
Ploceus ocularis (Spectacled weaver)   

Spectacled weaver male in a ring, which is the first stage of nest construction, at Kunene River Lodge, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

 
  • Egg-laying season is from September-March, peaking from October-February.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 13-14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 15-19 days and becoming fully independent about two weeks later.

Threats

Not threatened.

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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