Sociable Weaver biometrics and primary moult

  • H Dieter Oschadleus Avian Demography Unit, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Keywords: weaver, biometrics, moult


The biometric and primary moult data housed at the South African Bird Ringing Unit (SAFRING) were analysed for the Sociable Weaver Philetairus socius. The average body mass and wing length was 27.9g (SD = 2.2) and 74.1mm (SD = 2.5), respectively. Variation in these parameters is not clearly correlated with region, season or climate, other than a negative correlation of body mass with average annual water deficiency. Body mass of Sociable Weavers near Kimberley showed a long-term decrease of 2.9g, probably due to stabilising selection on mass. Primary moult duration varied from 152 days to 169 days and started between 26 January and 31 December in two populations (socius and South African eremnus respectively). Individual primaries moulted mainly one at a time, each taking 20–28 days to grow fully. Prolonged moult duration in this species is probably an adaptation to reduce energy expenditure, and to grow more durable feathers due to abrasion in entering the nest. The lack of clear patterns of geographical variation in biometrics indicates that the contiguous populations of Sociable Weaver should belong to the nominate species.

Ostrich 2004, 75(4): 309–316