Habitat utilisation and nesting behaviour of two sympatric weavers in Mbalmayo District, Cameroon
Avian ecology and behaviour data provides crucial information for bird conservation and management, but are still missing for many species, particularly in developing countries. This study examines habitat utilisation, nesting behaviour, anthropogenic disturbances and impacts on agricultural crops of Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus and Vieillot’s Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus in Mbalmayo District, Cameroon. Abundance was estimated by nest counts and point counts of birds at 40 previously located colonies, where also tree metrics and anthropogenic disturbances were measured. In total, more than 1 700 birds of the two species were estimated within a 9 km2 study area, divided into two blocks and five different habitat types. Village Weavers were generally more abundant, especially in the urban habitat, whereas Vieillot’s Black Weavers were most numerous in the rural habitat. Among the tree species used for nesting, mango Mangifera indica and African border tree Newbouldia laevis had the highest nest counts, which also was positively related to canopy cover diameter. Traffic noise disturbance was associated with lower bird and nest counts, whereas the opposite was observed on farming disturbance. The relative impacts on agricultural crops were estimated for African oil palm Elaeis guineensis (38%), maize Zea mays (36%), Musa spp. (18%) and Mangifera indica (8%). The implications for long-term coexistence between farmland birds and humans are discussed, and the challenge is to minimise both kinds of bird–human interactions, i.e. anthropogenic disturbances and agricultural crop damage.