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A photo of a Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons), male
Thick-billed Weaver, Male

Thick-billed Weaver

Amblyospiza albifrons

The Thick-billed Weaver, or Grosbeak Weaver, is a robust bird with a striking appearance, native to the Afrotropics. It is the sole member of the genus Amblyospiza, characterized by its notably strong mandibles and a less melodious, rather harsh vocalization. The species exhibits a unique tail behavior, often seen fanning and flicking.

Identification Tips

Males of this species can be identified by their white foreheads, a feature alluded to in their scientific name, Amblyospiza albifrons. The bill is exceptionally large and blunt, a trait that has given rise to the bird's common name.

Habitat

Thick-billed Weavers are found in a variety of habitats, including marshes, uplands, suburban areas, and artificial wetlands. They show a preference for reedy wetlands for breeding purposes.

Distribution

This species has a discontinuous distribution across West, East, and southern Africa. It is known to inhabit regions from southeastern Guinea to the southern Central African Republic, northwestern Angola, and southwards to eastern South Africa.

Behaviour

Thick-billed Weavers are polygynous, with males courting multiple females. They may nest solitarily or in small colonies, with some colonies hosting over a hundred nests. Their nesting behavior is quite flexible, ranging from apparent monogamy at low densities to colonial nesting.

Breeding

During the breeding season, males may attract up to six females, with several nests active simultaneously within their territory. Females lay clutches of 3 whitish-pink eggs, speckled with red, purple, and brown. Incubation, lasting 14 to 16 days, and chick rearing are solely the female's responsibility, although males may occasionally assist in feeding the young. Chicks fledge after about 18 to 20 days.

Nests

The nests of the Thick-billed Weaver are compact and globe-shaped, woven from thin reed strips and suspended between upright reed stems. The entrance is uniquely positioned near the top and to the side. Initially large, the entrance is narrowed once a female selects the nest. These nests may later serve as homes for other species, such as climbing mice or other small birds.

Similar Species

While the Thick-billed Weaver's strong bill and nesting habits are distinctive, it may be confused with other weaver species. However, its larger bill and the position of the nest entrance help differentiate it from its relatives.

Diet and Feeding

The species uses its powerful mandibles to extract seeds from nutlets and drupes. It can be observed foraging on the ground or feeding on nettle nutlets in various environments.

Conservation status

The Thick-billed Weaver is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it does not face any immediate threat of extinction.

Thick-billed Weaver Sounds



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Thick-billed Weavers on Birda

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