Ploceidae – Weavers

Family of social, specialized nest builders songbirds with conical beaks

A remarkable group of passerine birds primarily native to the Old World, particularly Africa, where they exhibit a stunning diversity of species. Some of these species have been introduced to other regions, expanding their presence beyond their native range.

Males in the Ploceidae family are renowned for their vibrant plumage, especially during the breeding season when they often display bright yellow, orange-red, and black colors to attract females. Outside the breeding season, some species may revert to a more subdued coloration, blending into their surroundings more effectively.

Weavers are incredibly social and exhibit a variety of social structures and mating systems. Many are colonial nesters, building intricate nests that hang from trees or reeds, often over water. These nests can be quite elaborate, woven with grasses and other plant fibers, and are a testament to the birds’ complex behavior and skill. The social structures within colonies can vary, with some species practicing monogamy while others may be polygynous, where a single male mates with multiple females.

Dietary habits within the Ploceidae family are diverse, reflecting the range of habitats they occupy. Many weavers feed on grains, seeds, and insects, playing a role in pest control and plant seeds’ dispersal. Some species have adapted to feed on nectar, exhibiting a mutualistic relationship with flowering plants, while others may include invertebrates and even small vertebrates in their diets.

Weavers inhabit a variety of environments, from grasslands and scrublands to savannas, open forests, and marshes. Their adaptability to different habitats is one of the keys to their widespread distribution across Africa and into parts of Asia.

Breeding strategies among weavers are as diverse as their diets. Some construct solitary nests, while others build large communal structures that house many pairs, each with its own chamber. The communal nests serve as a defense against predators and harsh weather.