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The Orange Bishop Weaver

by Orlando Bonnici

The Orange Bishop Weaver is a beautiful bird which requires a lot of care and space in order to breed and live happily. Unlike most other cage birds it has not been breed in captivity for a long time. Orange bishop weavers are native of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia and south to Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya. Although these Weavers are very timid towards humans the males have one of the most beautiful plumage in the reign of aviculture. When the cock is in colour the plumage around his head will become of very bright orange while the rest of his body will darken considerably. When out of color, the cock resembles the hen (who never changes color) and juveniles: tawny brown with dark streaks on the head and back, a light brown chest, and cream belly.

Orange weavers eat canary seeds but as all other birds species a diet based only on seeds is not enough. They are very fond of greens and ripe seeds of grasses and small brush. In Africa flock of orange weavers are considered as pests. They are responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of crops and many farmers in Africa kill orange weavers in great numbers. They may feed on the ground or by hanging from seed heads of grass and plant stems. They also require regular live food (worms, young crickets and termites), which they devour in considerable amounts. Additional vitamin and proteins should be also given throughout the rest of the year.

These birds will require a large aviary and will probably not breed in a large cage. The males requires a lot of space and must have a harem of at least five females. In nature there were recorded cases of males having up to 40 females in his harem!! Because of the highly territorial nature of these birds, only 1 cock should be housed per enclosure. If more than cock are housed together, deadly fights will occur until only one male will survive and will start mating with the females in the aviary.

Orange Bishop weavers’ cocks thread beautiful and complicated nests which hang down of tree branches. Breeding orange bishop weavers has many times proved to be a very hard task. Larger colonies seem to work better than smaller ones, three or four hens per cock better than pairs. Very few success has been achieved in cages as these birds require a large flight space. As a thumb rule a proper aviary for Orange Weavers should be large enough to have 12 feet cube for every weaver housed in it.

The males should be provided strands of long, coarse grass such as green fountain grass and raffia. Some twigs and other nesting material such as coconut fibre should be provided for the males to construct their hanging nests with. Using these raw materials the weaver males will build beautiful and strong nests in which the females can deposit her eggs. After the cock builds his nest(s) and selects a hen or two to mate with, he will do little more to help the hen with her eggs or chicks. The hen will lay, incubate, and rear the chicks almost entirely on her own. Provide plenty of live food and soft food during their breeding season & be sure to remove any young birds as soon as they are independent, so that they are not harmed by the highly territorial cock bird. Young cocks will not molt into the orange & black nuptial plumage until about 2 years of age, but they will begin weaving on their own much sooner than that.

Donated by Orlando Bonnici

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