Fox’s Weaver, Endemic Bird in Uganda

Uganda has conducive conditions and habitats that harbor over 1,000 bird species. This brings Uganda among the top birding destinations in Africa with a number of endemic and endangered bird species including the Fox’s weaver. Scientifically known as Ploceus Spekeoides, the fox’s weaver belongs to the Ploceide family. It is among the globally near threatened species.

The Fox’s weaver Uganda’s only endemic and it lives in moist savannah, swamps, subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland. It can be seen in Lira and Soroti districts and mostly around Lake Bisina and Lake Opeta. Lakes Bisina and Opeta are found in eastern Uganda and are connected by a wetland stretching and they drain in Lake Kyoga. The area is a good breeding place for the bird because the lakes have papyrus along the borders and the region is characterized with wooded grasslands. The Fox’s weaver is threatened because of loss of its habitat. Most of its habitat has been destroyed because of need for land for farming and settlement among other reasons which has led to a huge reduction in their number and today they are only sighted.

Physical description of a Fox’s weaver

It is a medium sized weaver of about 14-15 centimeters. Their bill is thick and shorter compared to other weavers such as the Heuglin’s masked weaver and the Speke’s weaver. The Fox’s weaver looks more like the Speke’s weaver with a difference of darker upper parts and narrower yellow feather edges. The male Fox’s weaver has a darker facial mask washing into the brown down the throat with a crown and nape golden-yellow dark back to the upper back. The outer feathers have narrow yellow margins, rump yellow tail light brown to black and a shorter tail and yellow underbodies. The underbodies of a female Fox’s weaver are lighter while the upperparts are yellow-green. It also has a short tail.

Food and feeding

As most weavers are seed-eaters, the fox’s weaver has a well developed bill that enables it to feed on seeds. The specie has is said to be occurring in Whistling acacia and has been observed feeding on Acacia ants.

Breeding

The peak season for breeding is from April to September though some few breed in November. Most of the rest of the weavers are polygamous but this specie is monogamous and it will stay with its female throughout the breeding season. The male weavers construct nests and display them to attract females. The nests are in an oval shape, roughly woven without and entrance tunnel. Once the female likes the nest, it will enter.

Vocalization

The sound is a typical weaver screeching note.

There is very little research about the Fox’s weaver. It is confirmed that their numbers are continuously dropping because the sightings are very low in the areas where they are expected. Putting aside the status that the specie is globally near threatened, the Uganda bird atlas says that it is near threatened. This could be probably being a result of limited knowledge about the bird.

It is great to know that Nature Uganda is putting effort in raising the numbers of this specie. It has secured a grant from the African birding club to carry out inspection of the habitat where the bird is commonly seen. This will help Nature Uganda to have a hint about its population, the breeding density, distribution and threats as a starting point of saving and raising the number of the Fox’s weaver. There are high hopes that the work of Nature Uganda will be a success.

Bird enthusiasts get remarkable experiences on their birding safaris in Uganda, not only because of the variety of birds but also the rare and endemic species of birds.