African Silverbills in a Weaverbird Nest? - Observation of the Week, 10/18/22

Our Observation of the Week is this African Silverbill (Euodice cantans) using a weaverbird nest in Nigeria! Seen by @harooon.

Haruna Mohammed Abubakar says that, as a child growing up in Maiduguri, Nigeria, “nature has always been part of my life, for as long as I can remember.” He always enjoyed birds as a youngster, but in the early-to-mid-1990s he stumbled up on Birds of West Africa by William Serle and Gerard J. Morel and Birds of the West African Town and Garden by John H. Elgood. “These books,” he says, “opened the door for me to see that birds have fascinating lives that really are a joy to sit back and watch.”

Having obtained a masters degree in Psychology, Haruna teaches psychology classes at a college in Potiskum, Nigeria and spends much of his free time birding. 

My curiosity lies in birds and their habitat, specifically focused on bird watching and mental health. The mindful nature of birdwatching makes it both a happy and healing hobby. I believe birdwatching allows us to switch off from the mechanical world and get back to nature, to re-boot our system, which can go far in regulating our moods and behaviour.

Since 2018, Haruna has been volunteering for the Nigerian Bird Atlas Project (NiBAP), and he represents it in northeastern Nigeria. Last October he was in the town of Kukuri, birding for NiBAP.

While in the field I learned that many of the more interesting or hard-to-find species may be lurking in more remote areas away from human activity. For that reason I put more effort to reach them as we did in this trip, together with my colleague. 

We walked down to scrub bushes, watching birds and exploring nature, and I spotted a short tree. On it there was only a dangling nest, what looked like an abandoned weaverbird (Ploceus vitellinus) nest. I heard the calls from a distance which I recognized as coming from an African silverbill (Euodice cantans), emanating continuously from the direction of the nest. As I approached the tree, suddenly one of the birds flew and perched by the nest side. I swooped my camera in its direction, hoping to get a perfect shot, when a second bird appeared from nowhere and its attention was to get into the nest without considering us as a threat. It went in and came out and back again for some time and came out. I was amazed and my experience with this observation lasted just a couple of minutes - a flash and it was gone. But it will stay with me a lifetime as it was the first time I observed  Euodice cantans utilizing an abandoned weaver bird nest.

African silverbills (Euodice cantans) like dry, grassy, and scrubby areas and range through much of the areas south of the Sahara Desert. They have also been introduced to other places like Portugal, Qatar, and Hawaii. Males generally gather all the nesting materials and both members of the pair build the nest. According to Finch Info, they are known to use abandoned nests as well, although I couldn’t find that information elsewhere. 

Haruna (above, in Kainji National Park) had been hearing about iNat and joined up earlier this month. He’s uploaded his photos from 2018 to the present,

and right now I’m having positive interactions with many experts in the field of ornithology and my knowledge is really improving - not only in ornithology but as well as other taxa. Using iNaturalist allows me to connect with absolute nature lovers, people that have passion and knowledge on different categories of biological resources, and that strengthens my commitment to conserve birds and their habitat.

(Photo of Haruna was taken by A.S Ringim. Some quotes have been edited for clarity.)

- Here’s some footage African silverbills making their own nest.

-  Sir David Attenborough narrates this video showing weaverbird nest construction.

Publicado el 18 de octubre de 2022 a las 11:06 PM por tiwane tiwane


Great observation...I'm jealous!

Anotado por cthawley hace más de un año


Anotado por gljcrsmith hace más de un año

Well done --good work Haruna!

Anotado por susanhewitt hace más de un año

To my surprise , every little things matters.......
Thanks for the keen eyes.
Looking out for more of this...

Anotado por harooon hace más de un año


Anotado por lisa_bennett hace más de un año

What an amazing capture! Thanks for sharing :D

Anotado por firesoullv hace más de un año

Very nice! Love the storyline! We live in two different parts of the world yet experience the wonders of nature the same! Congratulations on the super shot!

Anotado por ken-potter hace más de un año

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