Male Golden-backed Weaver building a nest

on 26th May 2013

“During a pleasant morning walk 19th May 2013 at Lorong Halus with Simon Day and his two sons, who are doing a Big Year in 2013, we came across an unfamiliar species building a nest.

“We saw a ‘funny’ black-headed weaver collecting grass near the ‘Little Grebe”-lake, obviously some African escapee. It flew into some branches overhanging the lake, and Mark took a few snapshots with his compact. There was a bird photographer staking out the nest. He said the bird was alone, he had not seen the female.

“Consulting Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 15 and Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by Sinclair & Ryan (2003) after we got back, the bird appears to be a Golden-backed Weaver (Ploceus jacksoni) from East Africa, a male in full breeding plumage. According to The Avifauna of Singapore (2009) this escapee has not been recorded in Singapore previously. I saw it and photographed it back in 2002 at Rusinga Island in Kenya, this one location alone has 12 Ploceus weaver species on the checklist! How the bird got to Singapore is anyone’s guess, and it seems to be still looking for a mate…”

Morten Strange & Ng Bee Choo
Photo: Mark Wen Strange
19th May 2013

Note: The Golden-backed Weaver was first reported in Singapore in June 2011 LINK when both sexes were seen. Another post reported seeing it again in Lorong Halus in October 2012 LINK and later in Pasir Ris LINK. The latest report was in February 2013 LINK. This is the first report of a male building a nest.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 responses

  1. The golden-backed weaver is popular in aviculture, and is available from local bird shops. Like most African weavers, it has an eclipse phase, during which all the bright feathers are shed. During this time, the bird looks quite drab. Some bored bird keeper might have released his pet when it lost colour.

    The building of nests by weavers does not always signify breeding activity. It is a form of territorial display. Males construct nests in the hope of impressing passing females, just as playboys show off the title deeds of multiple properties.

    By the way, as the authorities proceed to ban bird imports from more and more Asian sources due to the presence of bird flu, dealers are increasingly turning to Africa, where imports are still permitted from many countries.

    I too have seen escaped African exotics in my neighbourhood.

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