Scaly Weaver Sporopipes squamifrons Scientific name definitions

H. Dieter Oschadleus
Version: 2.0 — Published February 23, 2023



The Scaly Weaver (Sporopipes squamifrons) is considered by some as a near-endemic to the Kalahari biome, favoring Vachellia (formerly Acacia) savanna with grassy patches and plenty of bare ground. It also extends into more mesic broad-leaved woodland, provided there is a thornbush component, and the arid Karoo in the south of its range, particularly where there are small trees or bushes (53, 46). The Scaly Weaver has adapted well to suburbia and is a common garden bird in many South African towns, especially where there are parks and other open spaces with thornbushes nearby. It is also common in rural subsistence farming areas where there are fallow fields, and overgrazing by livestock maintains the open, bare ground required for foraging.

Habitat in Breeding Range

Although its distribution is closely linked to Kalahari thornveld savanna, and described by some authors as an "Acacia [Vachellia] endemic" or "Kalahari-basin Acacia [Vachellia] specialist"(53, 46), it has a broader tolerance compared to other Vachellia (formerly Acacia) specialists. The Scaly Weaver often ventures into mesic broad-leaved woodland, e.g., mopane Colophospermum mopane, with a thornbush component, e.g., central Zimbabwe and the Limpopo River valley in the north, and the Karoo biome in the south of its range (46). It responds well to bush encroachment, provided there is some grass cover and bare ground. It is also found in bushes along dry watercourses, bushy areas near houses, subsistence agricultural areas subjected to overgrazing by livestock, and with fallow fields and coppicing bushes resulting from wood harvesting for fuel and construction purposes (54, 46). The species has also adapted well to suburbia, especially where there are parks and other open spaces with thornbushes nearby, and is a common garden bird in some South African towns. It is absent from the barren coastal deserts in Namibia and southwestern Angola. Although it drinks regularly when surface water is available, they are often a considerable distance away from surface water, relying on its diet and metabolic water to fulfill its water requirements (see Diet and Foraging: Drinking, Pellet-Casting, and Defecation).

Habitat in Nonbreeding Range

The Scaly Weaver is resident.

Recommended Citation

Oschadleus, H. D. (2023). Scaly Weaver (Sporopipes squamifrons), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (G. D. Engelbrecht, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.scawea1.02