On a 3 week trip from KwaZulu-Natal to Limpopo Province the displays of many South African weaver species were observed. The males of several species are shown below with a brief description of their displays. The most elaborate displays are shown by males of colonial, polygamous weavers.
This species has a simple display of wing-quivering and spread tail, while calling with chattering, grating notes. This male was one of two males and a female at a nest mass in a tree with many nest masses and males at Wolfhuiskraal.
This bishop displays by fluffing out the bright yellow feathers of the uppertail-coverts, both while perched and while flying around its territory. This flight display has been described as a “bumble-bee” flight.
Southern Red Bishop
This common bishop has similar displays to the Yellow-crowned Bishop, in fluffing the rump feathers (red in this species) in flight and while perched, giving a sizzling call.
This widow perches erectly while fanning its tail and quietly calling. The male also has a bouncing display when close to a female.
The Long-tailed Widowbird has a conspicuous and elaborate flight display over its grassland territory. The male slowly flaps his broad wings, with tail feathers held in an arc, while giving a swizzling call.
Lesser Masked Weaver
This weaver has a high frequency wing beat, while fanning his tail, and slightly swaying his head while hanging from the nest and singing.
Eastern Golden Weaver
This weaver flutters his wings at a high angle (away from the body), with tail fanned, while singing.
The colonial Village Weaver displays with wings beating far from the body, and body swaying side to side, while calling. Often males in a colony will display simultaneously, all singing.
Dates: 23 January – 11 February 2021
Kms driven: 2300 km on good roads, muddy roads, and lots of pot-holed roads!
Some localities visited: Durban to St Lucia, the midlands, Wakkerstroom grasslands, to bushveld in southern Limpopo Province, and Gauteng.
Thanks to Erwan Harscouet, Rita Covas and Claire Doutrelant for the trip!
This research was funded by the l’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR 19-CE02-0014-02).