weaverbird

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weaverbird,

name for the Ploceidae, a family of Old World seed-eating birds closely resembling finchesfinch,
common name for members of the Fringillidae, the largest family of birds (including over half the known species), found in most parts of the world except Australia.
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 (hence the alternate name weaver finch). It includes a number of so-called goldfinches and waxbill finches that are actually weaverbirds, rather than true finches of the family Fringillidae. The weavers are named for the highly complex woven nests built by many species, though others build only crude nests, and the parasitic widow weavers build no nests at all. Most weavers are sedentary, noisy, gregarious, and polygynous, with elaborate courtship rituals.

The weaver group is divided into the buffalo, sparrow, typical, and widow weavers. The African buffalo weavers are black-and-brown birds 8 to 10 in. (20.3–25.4 cm) long, that travel in small flocks and build bulky compartmented nests with separate chambers for two or more pairs. Of the 35 sparrow weavers the best known, and in fact one of the most widely distributed and familiar small birds in the world, is the English sparrowEnglish sparrow
or house sparrow,
small bird, Passer domesticus, common throughout most of the world. English sparrows are 4 to 7 in. (10–18 cm) long, with short, stout bills.
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 native to Europe, W Asia, and N Africa. It is the most successful town and city dweller among birds, and has followed European civilization wherever it has gone; it was introduced to North America in 1852.

As common in Asia is the Eurasian tree sparrow (also introduced in the United States), a nuisance in rice fields and sold in great quantities for food. These birds build untidy domed nests with side entrances. Most specialized of the sparrow weavers is the social weaver of Africa, famous for its apartment-house nest, in which 100 to 300 pairs have separate flask-shaped chambers entered by tubes at the bottom. They build these structures, which may be 10 ft (3 m) high and 15 ft (4.5 m) across, high in a sturdy tree, beginning with a roof of straw thatch.

Of the 100 or more African and Asian typical weavers, the small queleaquelea
, common name for an East African weaverbird, Quelea quelea. Less than 5 in. (13 cm) long and weighing slightly more than 1-2 oz (1.4 grams), these tiny birds are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa in areas receiving less than 30 in. (76 cm) of annual rainfall.
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, only 5 in. (12.7 cm) long, sometimes causes huge crop losses in Africa by feeding on grain in flocks numbering as many as one million birds. The African widow weavers (named for the long, drooping black tail plumes of the breeding male), or whydahs, are notable for their selective parasitic nesting habits; they lay their eggs in the nests of waxbillswaxbill,
common name for small, brightly colored weaver finches of the Estrildini tribe of the family Estrildidae. Most are African with the exception of two S Asian species of avadavats, and one Australian species (Estrilda temporalis
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, and their eggs are white, as are those of the waxbill, rather than spotted, as are those of all other weavers.

Many of the weaver family are kept as cage birds, especially the colorful waxbills (e.g., the Java sparrow, mannikin, munia, grenadier, cutthroat, and cordon-bleu, locust, parrot, Gouldian, and fire finches). Weaverbirds are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes.

References in periodicals archive ?
Sociable weaverbirds build their nests really close together under one big umbrella-shaped roof (left).
One tree had weaverbirds living in it for 100 years.
A profusion of weaverbirds cavort in trees only a few metres from the guests.
Weaverbirds, yellow-collared lovebirds, orange-bellied parrots, lilac-breasted rollers, and yellow hornbills all make it their home.
A few examples include: placing yellow tape on female mourning dove (Zenaidura macroura) heads (Goforth and Baskett, 1965), coloring male epaulets black on red-winged black birds (Agelaius phoeniceus; Smith, 1972), dyeing the inner wing linings of male village weaverbirds (Ploceus cucullatus) black (Collias, et al.
The evolution of social organization and visual communication in the weaverbirds (Ploceinae).