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Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus)

It is a small weaverbird, with red eyes, subtly-barred yellowish-green back, and pinkish-brown legs. The males have a conspicuous black mask, while females and immature birds are dull. Prefers semi-arid locations and open savannas. These birds are resident and colonial nesters in trees or branches. Their call is a grating, swizzling note, same with its cousins, but may also produce sharp alarm calls.

Read further to know more about the Southern Masked Weaver.

What is a Southern Masked Weaver?

Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus), also known as the African Masked Weaver, is a small passerine bird belonging to the Ploceidae family. It is a resident breeding bird whose range spreads throughout southern Africa. Its name comes from the nests that it weaves using various vegetation.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Ploceidae

Genus: Ploceus

Species: P. velatus

Southern Masked Weaver Physical Description

Southern Masked Weavers are small birds, growing from 4.3 inches to 5.7 inches or 11 to 14.5 centimeters. Adult males in their breeding plumage sport a black face and throat, subtly-barred yellowish-green back, red eyes, dark conical bill, and bright yellow underparts and head.

Meanwhile, females have a pale greenish-yellow plumage, with darker bars on the upper back. The bill is pinkish-brown, and eyes are red-brown. The throat appears to yellowish, turning off-white down the belly. Outside the breeding season, the male looks similar to the female but keeps the red eyes. Juveniles or immature birds also resemble the female plumage.

Where can they be spotted?

Southern Masked Weavers occur across southern Africa and thrive over a wide range of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, shrublands, inland wetlands, riverine thickets, and farmland with sparse trees, and gardens.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Southern Masked Weaver

Southern Masked Weavers are omnivorous, mainly feeding on arthropods, seeds, fruits, and nectar. These birds forage in small groups, taking seeds from grass stems or the ground or gleaning prey from stems and leaves.

These birds are polygynous, colonial nesters. 1 to 9 male southern masked weavers occur in the colony, each having multiple female partners of up to 12 each. Each male constructs nests. They are natural artisans and create nests through weaving, in which they got their name. The male picks a stable branch, clears it off from leaves, and ties slender blades of grass around it using only its beak and feet.

From there, he starts to weave, thread, tie, and knot hoops using palm, reed, or grass until he creates an oval dome. Once complete, the male will present the nest to the females, accompanied by a song while fluttering its wings. However, females can be meticulous and will only pick those the finest, freshest nest. Once she is satisfied, she will line the preferred nest with feathers or soft grass before laying her eggs.

The egg-laying seasons usually happens from July to March, peaking from September to February. The female usually lays a clutch of 1-6 eggs, which she will solely incubate for about 12-14 days. Chicks will also be fed singly by the female and soon leave the nest in about 16 to 17 days.

The population of the Southern Masker Weaver is not threatened, and they are currently classified as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

WILDLIFE PARKS AND RESERVES WHERE THIS SPECIES IS FOUND:

BOTSWANA

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve

Savute

SOUTH AFRICA

Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands

NAMIBIA

Caprivi Region

Damaraland

Etosha National Park

ZAMBIA

Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

ZIMBABWE

Gona-re-Zhou

Hwange

Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls

Masked Weaver
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