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The Fox’s Weaver – Fox’s Weaver is one of those that prefer moist habitats and is the only true endemic to Uganda, a country often referred to as Africa’s birding Capital during Uganda safaris. By description, it is a medium-sized weaver species with the male being more colourful than the female. The Fox’s Weaver is quite typical in weavers as it is with many species, especially those where the female does most of the incubating. During incubation, the males will frequently patch nearby in a guarding manner and will warn females in case of danger. Plumage, along with other factors, is very important during the display to attract females for mating.
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 at your birding Uganda safaris 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.
Fox’s Weaver description
The species is a medium-sized weaver of about 14 – 15 centimemters/6 inches with a very thick bill and short tail compared to similar Weavers like Speke’s Weaver (Ploceus spekei) and Heuglin’s Masked Weaver (Ploceus heuglini). The male has a dark facial mask that washes into brown down the throat, crown and nape golden-yellow, dark back to the upper back, outer feathers with narrow yellow fringes, rump yellow, tail light brown to black and a significantly shorter tail. The underparts are all yellow. The female has lighter yellow underparts and yellow-green upperparts with a short tail too.
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.
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.
Fox’s Weaver Movements
They are breeding residents but will wonder a lot within their range during the dry season.
Locally this bird was nearly declared extinct despite non-photographic reports from the regional birders, and these included Crammy Wanyama and Ibrahim Ssenfuma’s report of a flock of over 200 individuals around the pian Upe game reserve areas. Pian Upe not until August 9, 2019, was not accepted to be a range for this species.
Crammy Wanyama discovered the current Fox’s Weaver breeding territories at Pakwi and Magoro areas following a single photo captured unknowingly by Ben Ntale a very adventurous Ugandan naturalist. Thank you, Ben!
On August 9, 2019, while leading the Eastern to North Eastern Uganda tour, he discovered more territories along the Sironko to Nakapiripiti road with high concentration at Pian Upe Game Reserve where he had first sighted a flock of over 200 individual for years ago. On the given date while doing a birding game drive, he counted 46 nests and saw 37 individuals which included male and female and one young male.