The Red-billed quelea is a small, short-tailed weaver bird that exhibits interesting variations in appearance depending on the season and sex. During the breeding season, males sport striking black face masks and vibrant red to pinkish bills, while females display more subdued hues, with dull yellow to pinkish bills and eye-rings. This sexual dimorphism adds to the visual intrigue of this species and aids in distinguishing between genders.
These birds are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats across Africa, including semi-arid areas, arid savannas, open-bushed grasslands, and cultivated areas. They are both resident and nomadic, with populations moving in response to the availability of food and water. The Red-billed quelea is primarily granivorous, relying heavily on annual grass seeds for sustenance. When grass seed supplies are limited, they may turn to cereal crops, posing a significant challenge to agricultural efforts in some regions. Interestingly, despite their predominantly seed-based diet, chicks are fed insects by their parents, highlighting the species’ adaptability and resourcefulness.
Breeding behavior in Red-billed queleas is characterized by colony nesting, with large numbers of nests often clustered together on a single tree. Some colonies can contain upwards of 6,000 nests, underscoring the social nature of these birds and their reliance on communal nesting sites for reproduction. Breeding success is closely tied to environmental factors such as rainfall and the availability of nesting materials, highlighting the species’ vulnerability to changes in climate and habitat conditions.
Roosting behavior in Red-billed queleas also plays a crucial role in their survival strategies. At communal roosting sites, individuals exchange vital information about the locations of food sources, allowing them to maximize foraging efficiency and exploit resources effectively. This collaborative behavior reflects the species’ adaptability and intelligence, enabling them to thrive in dynamic and challenging environments.
Did you know?
- They are considered serious pests in Africa; the control actions like spraying, and the use of explosives, have harmful environmental and biodiversity consequences.
- They play an essential role in maintaining open grassland habitat.
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No