While they are commonly seen throughout southern Africa, Southern Masked Weavers (Ploceus velatus) have taken some years to become regular visitors to our garden. They are no strangers to this blog for during the past year or two they appear to have become the dominant weaver – outranking the Village Weavers that used to outnumber them by far. They are easily distinguished from Village Weaver by being slightly smaller and have a plain, rather than a blotchy, back.

Depending on the weather, their breeding season usually runs from September to January, although the peak of the season is in summer. During this time, breeding males sport a black face mask with a narrow black band on the forehead above the bill. During the non-breeding season they adopt a more drab appearance, akin to the females, other than the retention of their red eyes. Note their short, strong, conical bill.

The shape of its bill is eminently suited to it being mainly a seed-eater. They eat seeds both from the bird-feeders and from the ground. I have also observed them foraging through leaves and branches as well as fighting each other – and other birds – over any scraps of food I place on the tray. These birds have bent and broken the stems of the cosmos flowers – in search of insects or nectar?

When we had rain and I was able to grow African Marigolds, I would often see some of the Southern Masked Weavers ripping the petals apart.

Now is the time when the lovely orange blossoms of the Cape Honeysuckle come into bloom and the weavers waste no time in biting off the tubular flowers at the base to get at the nectar. They do the same to the Weeping Boer-bean, which is also blooming now. When our Erythrina caffra trees are in bloom, they join with a wide variety of birds doing much the same.

Lastly, these birds are not slow when it comes to feasting on the termites and flying ants that regularly appear in the garden!



    • That is so. The more I observe the creatures in our garden, the more I understand about the natural foods they find for themselves. The fruit and seed I put out is really a supplementary treat for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I really like how you featured the weaver first with its head turned and then full faced. Made me gasp with delight. What a beautiful face! Sound as though they are very determined in their search for food. I suppose they have to be.


  2. What a beautiful bird even though common in your area.
    Love seeing the blooms too. I grow a marigold every summer that looks a lot like the one pictured here. I always think of it as a Mexican flower. This year when I get ready to plan them I will have to get the scientific name from the packet and investigate from where they originated.


    • I suspect these marigolds are the same as the ones you call Mexican Marigolds 🙂 They are certainly not indigenous and are one of those flowers grown in gardens all over the world.


  3. Just a few days ago I wondered to my self what the other birds at our garden feeding station must think of the bombastic attitudes of the “geelvinke” as they plunder and peck their way to the centre of the tray!


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