A casual glance at this stony ground reveals nothing that is obviously edible, yet, this Southern Masked-Weaver (Ploceus velatus) kept flitting down from the nearby shrubbery to make a thorough search of the area – akin to gleaning a harvested wheat field. He certainly found a number of tiny morsels to eat, as this photograph shows.

Its plain back and red eyes distinguish it firstly from the Village Weaver and secondly from the Lesser Masked-Weaver. The latter does not occur in this region, while both the Village Weaver and the Southern Masked-Weaver visit our garden – along with Cape Weavers, the occasional Spectacled Weaver and – even more rarely – a Yellow Weaver or two.

In common with other members of the weaver family, the Southern Masked-Weaver usually eats insects, seeds, and a variety of plant material as well as nectar – they love aloes! I suspect this one was finding seeds lodged within the gravel. The slightly damp look is a result of the briefest of light drizzle showers that swept over us at the time – not even long enough for us to get wet.

Here is a Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) for comparison:

20 thoughts on “GLEANING WEAVER

    • Thank you for these interesting pictures, Derrick. The word ‘gleaning’ always takes me back to the dining room in my grandparents’ home for this is where they had a print of Jean-Francois Millet’s painting ‘The Gleaners’ on the wall near the entrance. As a young child I was entranced by this picture – and now often wonder who’s home it ended up in.

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    • I visited your blog, Derrick, to view the painting of the Gleaners and was so enchanted by your photography and ramblings, that I’ve bookmarked it and shall be visiting regularly, henceforth.
      Coincidentally, I named my own blog Driftwood Ramblings, although I stopped adding to it in 2012.

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  1. I am reminded of going to a garage sale with a friend. I saw nothing of value …. just a bunch of junk.
    But my friend went gleaning and pawing through every little box and was delighted with her finds.


  2. I sometimes see birds pecking in gravel and wonder if they are picking up grit for their gizzard or finding food like ants or seeds that are to small for us to see. Bird watching is never boring!


    • It certainly isn’t: two days ago I was watching three female weavers squabbling over the offerings in the feeding tray when I heard a loud THUMP which caused the flock of Laughing Doves to scatter. A large Steppe Buzzard had swooped down among them; it looked at me for a few seconds then flew away silently (empty ‘handed’) this time, although the sight of one so close to me left me filled with awe.

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  3. Thank you for casting your spotlight on Weavers, Anne – we are similarly entertained by the many that visit our garden to feast, as you correctly pointed out here, on an assortment of seeds, nectar (sugar water) and the mealworms I provide. They are voracious feeders and arrive en masse. I love their delightful, excited chatter, spunky attitude, cheekiness, inquisitiveness and dedication as parents. Their nests are quite wonderous, too!
    How exciting you got to see a Steppe Buzzard up close, even thought it was far too close for the comfort of your other visitors. It certainly seemed to have made a rather dramatic entrance with its loud thump!


    • I am glad to know someone else who enjoys weavers! You describe their behaviour so well too – I find their ‘excited chatter’ uplifting. Some people complain about the ‘noise’ weavers make – one neighbour even cut down a tree weavers were nesting in ‘because of the mess they make’! The encounter with the Steppe Buzzard was a rare occurrence I was fortunate to experience.


      • Oh, my goodness! I never tire of their chatter and feel so very blessed having any and all birds choose to nest in our garden. We just cleanup any obvious “mess” 😊

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