Redbilled buffalo weaver

Bubalornis niger subfamily

Bubalornithinae taxonomy

Bubalornis niger A. Smith, 1836, Kurrichane, South Africa. other common names

French: Alecto a bec rouge; German: Büffelweber; Spanish: Tejedor Búfalo de Pico Rojo.

physical characteristics

8.7 in (22 cm); unsexed 2.7-2.9 oz (78-82 g). Male dark blackish brown, white patch in wings in flight. White bases to body feathers may show when plumage ruffled. Bill and legs red. Female dark brown, variably flecked with white on underparts. Bill and legs brown. Juveniles paler with more white on underparts. Bill orange-yellow.

distribution

Ethiopia and Somalia through eastern Africa to Angola, Zambia, and northern Mozambique, south to northern South Africa.

habitat

Dry thornveld with large trees. behavior

In groups or non-breeding flocks up to 50 birds, may associate with other species. Usually present at nest sites throughout the year.

Feeding Ecology

feeding ecology and diet

Mainly insects, also seeds and fruit. Most food collected on the ground.

reproductive biology

Colonial and polygynous, often polygynandrous (each male mates with several females, and female mates with more than one male), since in most broods genetic studies indicate multiple paternity. Nest is a large mass of thorny twigs, containing up to 13 nest chambers, lined with green vegetation. Male builds main structure and starts lining chambers; female adds further lining before laying. Phalloid organ not inserted during copulation, but stimulation from this structure may be essential for successful mating. Lays three to four eggs in spring and summer. Incubation 11 days, fledging 20-23 days. Female alone incubates and does most feeding of chicks; male feeds young occasionally.

conservation status

Not threatened; dependent on large trees, but much habitat is sparsely populated.

significance to humans

None known; may use human-made structures as nest sites, or nest near homesteads. ♦

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