Scientific Name: Ploceus cucullatus
The black-headed weaver is a member of a large family of weavers found throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa. They are noted for the construction of complex nests woven from grass.
Black-headed weavers are gregarious, highly social, and very noisy birds. They feed in large flocks, sometimes mixed with other species of weavers and starlings. The males are polygynous, mating with several females. After constructing a nest, the male hangs beneath and displays singing and flapping. If a female accepts his invitation and moves in he begins building another nest to attract another female. A successful male may attract four or five females.
STATUS: The black-headed weaver is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
HABITAT: Open bush and wooded areas of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, So. Mali, Burkina Faso, Southern Niger, Ghana, Togo, Benin and much of East Africa. It is absent only in the driest areas.
DIET: Seeds and insects, with the proportion of insects increasing during the nesting season.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adult bodies are six to seven inches long, with males being a bit larger than the females. They weigh just one to one and one have ounces. During the breeding season, the males are brightly colored, with black heads, bright yellow bodies and brownish wing and tail feathers. Out of the breeding season the colors are more muted. The females have greenish-yellow bodies with the wings and tails being darker. The birds have heavy black bills typical of seed eaters. They are perching birds with tendons in the legs that lock the toes onto the bird’s perch when the bird crouches down. The bird must extend its legs to release its grip.
Home Sweet Home
The nest is carefully woven by the male from grasses and/or strips of palm fronds. You can usually see several nests in various stages of completion in the weaver exhibit at the Zoo. After entering the nest, the female lines it with soft grasstops, then lays two eggs (usually). The eggs hatch in 12-13 days. Once the hatchlings fledge, about three weeks after hatching, she will lay another clutch, and in a good year there is often a third clutch.