White-headed Buffalo Weaver
|White-headed Buffalo Weaver|
|At Serengeti National Park, Tanzania|
L. Reichenbach, 1863
The White-headed Buffalo Weaver (Dinemellia dinemelli) is a species of passerine bird in the family Ploceidae native to East Africa. The buffalo part of its name derives from its habit of following the African buffalo, feeding on disturbed insects. Two subspecies are recognized.
The White-headed Buffalo Weaver was first described by the German naturalist Eduard Rüppell in 1845. Alternate common names include White-faced Buffalo-weaver, Witkop-buffelwever (in Dutch), Alecto à tête blanche (in French), Starweber (in German), Bufalero Cabeciblanco and Tejedor Búfalo de Cabeza Blanca (in Spanish), and Tessitore dei bufali testabianca (in Italian).
Two subspecies of the White-headed Buffalo Weaver are now recognized.
- D. d. dinemelli (E. Rüppell, 1845), northern part of its range: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, northern Kenya.
- D. d. boehmi (A. Reichenow, 1885), southern part of its range: Kenya and Tanzania.
The White-headed Buffalo Weaver is 170–190 mm (6.7–7.5 in) in length and 57–85 g (2.0–3.0 oz) in weight. In addition to its white head and underparts, the White-headed Buffalo Weaver has a vividly orange-red rump and undertail coverts. Its thighs are dark brown. Narrow white bands can be found on the wings. Both sexes are similar in plumage and hard to differentiate. The bill is conical and black. D. d. dinemelli has a brown tail, whereas D. d. boehmi has a black tail.
Distribution and habitat
The White-headed Buffalo Weaver is native to the African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. It prefers habitats such as savanna, and shrublands, but especially dry brush and Acacia thickets.
Like the most weavers, it is a gregarious bird which forages on the ground for insects, especially beetles and butterflies, fruits, and seeds, often in groups with starlings. Foraging is often done in groups of 3–6 birds. Its sound is parrot-like: “skwieeer”, “kiiyerr”, a ringing and repetitious “tew”. In addition, variable sounds as chuckles and whistles can be heard at breeding and roosting sites. The sounds are slow and drawn out. They also make trills: “tsu-weely-weely-wair”. They often perch in trees and hang upside-down and can be very noisy. Breeding and roosting is done in groups and they can be defensive against intruders, usually by making noise. Altercations are rarely fatal and usually vocal. Males display to females by spreading their wings to show their white wing-patches and red-orange tail-coverts.
Breeding pairs are monogamous and nests are built together. The breeding season depends according to rainfall and varies according to local conditions. Nest materials are pushed together, not interwoven, to form an oval 570 millimetres (22 in) wide. A short entrance tube opens downwards and is about 2 to 4 metres (6.6–13 ft) above the ground. Soft materials line the inner portions of the nest, which usually has several rooms, with defensive thorny branches on the outside. A large tree will have several of their nests, which other birds such as the African Pygmy-falcon are known to use instead of building their own. The female incubates 3–5 greyish to pale blue eggs with red, brown and olive markings for 11–14 days. Both parents feed the chicks.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Dinemellia dinemelli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli". Oiseaux-Birds. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver (Dinemellia dinemelli)". Internet Bird Collection. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver". Kenya Birds. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver". Los Angeles Zoo. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver". Honolulu Zoo. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "White-headed Buffalo Weaver". Saint Louis Zoological Park. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
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