Flexibility in the timing of post-nuptial moult among Red-billed Queleas Quelea quelea in Botswana in relation to the timing of breeding

  • Peter J Jones Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK
  • Robert A Cheke Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich at Medway, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, UK
  • Nicky Bousfield PO Box 173, Francistown, Botswana


The timing of primary moult of adult Red-billed Queleas Quelea quelea, captured as they were completing an unusually late breeding attempt at Francistown, northern Botswana, in June 2004, was compared with the timing of moult of birds breeding earlier in the season in north-west Botswana during two earlier years, 1971 and 1972. Differences between years in the dates when local colonies finished breeding (mid-March to late June) and between two localities in the same year (mid-March and late May) were matched by corresponding differences in the estimated dates of moult onset, ranging from mid- April to mid-June. Flexibility in the timing of moult among Red-billed Queleas in southern Africa evidently enables birds to take advantage of unusually late breeding opportunities by delaying moult onset and overlapping moult and breeding at the end of the nesting cycle. Such flexibility may also include moult interruption to permit late breeding, although its incidence in southern Africa is apparently low.

Ostrich 2007, 78(3): 555–559

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525