Sakalava weaver

Ploceus sakalava subfamily

Ploceinae taxonomy

Ploceus sakalava Hartlaub, 1867, Madagascar. other common names

French: Tisserin sakalave; German: Sakalavenweber; Spanish: Fodi Sakalava.

physical characteristics

5.1-5.9 in (13-15 cm); adult 0.7-0.9 oz (20-27 g). Breeding male has yellow head, gray underparts and back, brown wings and tail. Bare reddish skin around eye, unique in weavers, blue-gray bill. Female is paler below, with whitish throat and distinct brown stripes on side of head, above and below eye; bill pale gray. Non-breeding male like female, but bare pinkish skin around eye. Juvenile like female, but paler with bill horn-colored.

distribution

Western Madagascar.

habitat

Open, lowland areas including cultivated land, spiny bush, and deciduous dry forests.

behavior

Highly gregarious, typically in flocks of 200 or more. feeding ecology and diet

Feed primarily on the ground, collecting seeds, but also forage in trees and marshes, and young are fed primarily insects.

reproductive biology

Colonial, some males may be polygynous, but mating system not studied. Nest is retort-shaped, often suspended on a short woven rope, with entrance tunnel up to 16 in (40 cm) long. Both male and female build nest, and colonies usually in trees, often within villages, and even attached to thatched roofs of huts. Small colonies may be placed under nests of crows or large birds of prey. Breeding season varies with rainfall, especially in dry southwest. Lays two to four eggs; incubation and fledging periods unrecorded. Female alone incubates, but both sexes feed young.

conservation status

Not threatened, widespread in open and cultivated areas, and seldom molested.

significance to humans

Appear to take only waste rice, and not regarded as agricultural pests. In many areas weaver colonies in villages, especially those nesting close to a house, are considered a sign of good fortune and consequently protected. ♦

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