Johnny Wee and Lena Chow encountered the globally near-threatened Asian Golden Weaver (Ploceus hypoxanthus) (above left) building their nest in Tampines in May 2011 (below). This is an exotic species, first sighted way back in 2003. As far as we can ascertain, these are the first series of images showing nest building in Singapore.
Unlike the nest of the Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) which is retort-shaped with a long dangling entrance tube, this nest is a messy structure with a side entrance (above right). “…I understand that if the male Baya Weaver fails to build a proper nest, the female will reject it and the male has to build again,” wrote Johnny. “I suppose the female Asian Golden Weaver is not so fussy.”
Dr DR Wells has this to say, “Yes, indeed they are Asian Golden Weavers. Quite exciting if they establish and become self-sustaining in Singapore (no way of predicting this, and no such indication when I wrote Birds Thai-Malay Peninsular) as the species is in trouble over a good part of its natural range. Important to find out which subspecies is involved, continental or Javan; I will need to do some research. The ‘funny nests’ in other attachment [LINK 1 and LINK 2] are immature baya practice structures. Have Singapore’s Streaked Weavers survived? If yes, again, geographic origin needs investigating.”
Wells (2007), in a footnote on weavers on page 686 states: “A few Streaked Weavers Ploceus manyar, of uncertain geographical origin, have occurred feral on Singapore island since at least 1991 (Ollington and Loh 1992). Some have nested (BIRDLINE 1997; Ollington et al. 1999) but with no known success or sign yet of expansion beyond tiny numbers, and no suggestion of self-sustainability.”
R Subaraj has this to add: “As I have mentioned before, Asian Golden Weavers have been seen off and on over the years, mainly at Lorong Halus. However, they have been mere escapees, with no evidence of nesting or establishing themselves. If they are nesting at Tampines, then this would be the first attempt at establishing a feral colony but monitoring must take place over a few years to determine if this is successful in the long run, before they can be added to the Singapore checklist. As for the Streaked Weaver, they are still a feral species, in small numbers, at a few places, including Lorong Halus and Neo Teiw.”
Johnny Wee, Dr DR Wells, R Subaraj & Lena Chow
(All images by Johnny Wee)
Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.
John Lynn: I think I may have mistaken these for yellow buntings back in 1999-2000 in Tampines. I only had bins and didn’t start taking photo till 2001 but yes I watched these weekly in the area near “Tampines Lake” – the ex sand quarry.
Lee Chiu San: Could you let us know if you saw any females present? With weavers, the presence of a nest does not always signify breeding.
Hi Chiu San,
Yes, I saw a female emerge from the nest, and brought nest-building material back a few times, while the male was standing guard in the next tree. I also have a few pics of her, but I don’t think I can attach them here. I will send them separately to YC.
I have taken the liberty of reproducing here, Chiu San’s reply to those who corresponded with him for the records. YC
“Thanks so much Lena.
“This breeding gives rise to mixed emotions, but overall I feel generally positive.
“The weaver is getting scarce in its home territories of Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia. It would be nice to have a reserve colony here in Singapore, though what effect an exotic species will have on the local ecology is anyone’s guess.
“…Another species which is in this position is the Tanibar Cockatoo. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was widespread logging in the Tanibar islands, thousands of these cockatoos were displaced, trapped and shipped out in the bird trade.
“At that time, a Tanibar Cockatoo was the cheapest parrot one could buy.
“The supply suddenly dried up, I suppose when the trees were felled and all the cockatoos were either dead or captured.
“But being cheap, I assume that many of the birds were bought on impulse, and were released when the owners got tired of them.
“Today, the Tanibar Cockatoo is endangered in the wild. But there is a feral breeding colony in Singapore.
“Back to the subject of weavers, you know that they are like Singaporeans – liking to invest in property. Males build nests to show off their status that they have real estate, not necessarily only to breed. That was the reason for my asking whether or not you saw any females.
“Glad for your information that there is actually a breeding pair.
Lee Chiu San
Bird Ecology Study Group Asian Golden Weaver Feeding Juvenile
[…] Asian Golden Weaver (Ploceus hypoxanthus) building nests and in courtship at Tampines Eco Green LINK. Although no juveniles were seen that time, a female fetching food back to her nest and leaving […]