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Red-billed Weaver (Quelea quelea) about 12.5 cm long and weighing 29 g. The male has a red beak. During the nesting period, he has a black face, as well as red feathers on his chest and crown. The winter outfit is similar to the plumage of a female, beige, with black streaks on her face. The short beak is silver or gray.
The forehead, cheeks and throat of a weaver are black. The top of the head, neck and lower side of the body are brownish-pink, with a pink tone in some individuals being more pronounced, in others weaker. The middle of the abdomen and the undertail are white or yellowish white. The back, wings and tail are brown. The beak is red. In non-breeding time, the male is painted like a female. Moreover, both of them are very similar to females of other species of weavers, but the beak of a male of a red-billed weaver always retains a red color.
Subspecies of the red-billed weaver have some difference in the color of plumage, expressed, in particular, in the width of the black strip on the forehead of the bird. It is interesting that among the representatives of all four subspecies there are individual individuals whose forehead, cheeks and throat are not black, but light, sandy yellow, while the pink color on the head, neck and sides is much more intense than that of all other birds.
There are cases when the same color change occurred in captivity. Along with this, for long-living in captivity individuals of the red-billed weaver, a gradual blackening (melanization) of the entire plumage and even the beak is observed.
The range covers the largest part of sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of areas of selva and part of South Africa. Birds are voracious and often fly on crops of grain crops, thereby representing a disaster for peasant farms. People are massively fighting birds.
Red-billed weavers live and nest in large packs. They stay more often in the steppes and savannahs, are not afraid of people. In search of food, they travel long distances every day. Life expectancy of birds is from 2 to 3 years.
Nutrition consists of grass seeds and cereals. As soon as the sun rises, the birds gather in large flocks and together begin to look for a suitable feeding place. By noon, they rest in shady areas close to the pond and spend time caring for their plumage. Only in the evening they go in search of food for the second time.
The nesting period begins with the rainy season, which is different and varies by region. Current males weave half, oval nests from blades of grass and straws. As soon as the female inspects the structure of the nest and mates with the male, both partners complete the construction of the nest together.
In clutch there are 2-3 eggs of greenish-blue color. One female incubates. Hatching is observed after 14 days. Both birds feed the chicks. Young leave the nest at the age of 18–22 days. In color, they look like a female, but are more dull colored, with light beaks and very short tails. 10-12 days after departure from the nest, they already feed on their own, and it is better to put them off from their parents, because the male behaves quite aggressively towards them.
After the birth of the chicks, the parents feed them for several days with caterpillars and protein-rich insects. After this time, parents rearrange their diet for seeds. Young birds become independent after about 2 weeks. They reach their puberty in the first year of life.
Many females die before reaching puberty, so many males every year can not find a partner.
According to rough estimates, the number red-billed weaver (Quelea guelea) from a group of passerines only in West Africa reaches one and a half billion individuals, and individual bird colonies sometimes number several million pairs.
On one tree there are up to six hundred nests. Being granivorous birds, these weavers cause significant damage to agriculture. Naturally, in places of concentration of these birds they have to fight.