Species names in all available languages
|English (South Africa)||Scaly-feathered Finch|
|English (United States)||Scaly Weaver|
|French (French Guiana)||Sporopipe squameux|
|Russian||Усатый воробьиный ткачик|
|Spanish (Spain)||Tejedorcito escamoso|
|Turkish||Pul Alınlı Dokumacı|
This account is part of the 8th edition of Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. This project is a joint collaboration between the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. H. Dieter Oschadleus revised the account. Peter Pyle contributed to the Plumages, Molts, and Structure page. Shawn M. Billerman contributed to the Systematics page. Arnau Bonan Barfull curated the media. Huy C. Truong updated the distribution map.
Sporopipes squamifrons ("Smith, A", 1836)
The Key to Scientific Names
Scaly Weaver Sporopipes squamifrons Scientific name definitions
Version: 2.0 — Published February 23, 2023
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Demography and Populations
Many nests fail due to predation, especially at the egg stage. The maximum elapsed time (longevity) in ringing studies is at least five years and one month. Two species of chewing lice species have been recorded on adults, one of which seems to be host-specific. One nest mite species has been recorded. Adults have been reported to be infected with several species of blood parasites. Causes of mortality include a very cold spell, possibly combined with starvation, and nests containing young birds starved for an unknown reason.
In the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the population is estimated at more than 500,000 adults. In its major stronghold in the southern and central Kalahari, it occurred at an average density of 9 birds/ha . Densities are lower in other areas, and temporarily higher after exceptional early rainfall. The population seems to be stable but may possibly be increasing in some areas, and it has expanded its range on some edges of its range.
Measures of Breeding Activity
In the Northern Cape Province, South Africa, 9 of 30 nests failed to hatch any eggs (through predation), with daily nest predation rates estimated at 2.15 ± 0.71% (103). In the Polokwane Game Reserve, 27 eggs were laid in 9 nests under observation, and 4 nestlings fledged, giving a crude breeding success estimate of 14%. Most nests (n = 12) were lost during the incubation stage (74).
See Behavior: Predation for information on nest predators.
Life Span and Survivorship
The maximum elapsed time (longevity) in ringing studies is at least five years and one month (104).
Disease and Body Parasites
Two chewing lice species have been recorded on adults: Brueelia sp.n. (105) and the seemingly host-specific Myrsidea eisentrauti Klockenhoff, 1982 - 8 of 13 birds were parasitized by the latter in one study (106).
One nest mite has been recorded, but the species has not been fully determined, Pellonyssus reedi/malurus (107).
Adults have been reported to be infected with the blood parasites Plasmodium (Novyella) nucleophilum (2 of 12 birds) (108), Haemoproteus sp. (1 of 15 birds) (109), Haemoproteus passeris (110), and Hepatozoon passeris (2 of ~50 birds) (111).
Causes of Mortality
In Zimbabwe, four adult males and four females died after a very cold spell in early summer, possibly combined with starvation (112). One or two nests containing young birds were either deserted, or the parents were killed, leaving the nestlings to starve (4).
Population Spatial Metrics
In its major stronghold in the southern and central Kalahari, the Scaly Weaver occurred at an average density of 9 birds/ha as recorded in transect counts in the Kutse Game Reserve (1), while an average of 2.5 birds/ha was found in 19 transects in seven bushveld habitats in northern and eastern Botswana (46). After exceptional early rainfall in October 2018 in the Gondwana Namib Desert Park, it was recorded at a higher-than-normal density of 13.4 birds/ha in late December 2018, but this had dropped to 1.1 birds/ha by early March 2019 (113). In Limpopo Province, the density in mixed Vachellia woodland was estimated at 1 pair/20 ha; but the species was absent from broad-leaved wild syringa (Burkea africana) woodland in the same area (53).
The Scaly Weaver is not a colonial nester in the formal sense, but nests are sometimes clustered in a relatively small area (64). The mean size of nesting aggregations was given as 1.8 nests ± 1.2 SD (range 1–5, n = 20 (114). Further information needed.
Locally common. In Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the population is estimated at more than 500,000 adults (115). The mean reporting rate within its southern African range is 26.0% (46).
In the absence of any substantial threats or evidence of a decline in numbers, the population seems to be stable (116). The Scaly Weaver may possibly be increasing in numbers, as it responds positively to bush encroachment and clearing of land for agriculture, and it has expanded its range into the Lowveld of South Africa and Zimbabwe, and also into Zambia since 1994 (see Distribution).