During winter male Cape Weavers (Ploceus capensis) adopt a dull-looking non-breeding appearance. With the onset of spring, they change their appearance significantly. They turn a bright golden yellow with a dark yellowy-olive back; have a black sharp-pointed beak and pale golden eyes. That is not all: their face and throat becomes suffused with a deeper orange / chestnut wash.
The males are polygamous and have been recorded as having up to seven breeding females in their territory, which they vigorously defend. I imagine everyone has to get along in a more sociable manner when sharing a source of food – such as at the feeding area in our garden – but this explains their aggressive behaviour when, at times, males seem to chase each other away from food on the ground, in the feeders, and even ‘bouncing’ each other from the nectar feeder.
Male Cape Weavers go through various stages of changing the colour of their plumage, depending on their age and the breeding cycle. I am not familiar enough with this to comment fully except to note that some appear to be more colourful than others – as the two shown above illustrate. This individual, however, has been particularly noticeable in the flock of weavers that visit our garden.
He is unusually ‘colour-washed’, as though he had fallen into a pot of dye instead of dipping into it. I wonder if this is usual for Cape Weavers or if this one happens to be an exception.