Jizan

The Weaver Bird Colonies of Jizan

June 24, 2020

Seeing fascinating clusters of low-hanging weaver birds nest colonies in Jizan Province made me consider bringing my DSLR camera during long-distance travels again.

Fortunately, my smartphone managed to take decent photos and even captured one of the more vibrant male species on video.

This citrus tree has an insane amount of nests hanging on the branches. I had my friend stand under it for scale. There’s a nest hanging just above shoulder level if you’ll look closely.

Ruppell's weaver birds nest colony in Jizan

A colleague who is a native of Jizan pointed me to these clusters of oval birds nests hanging on a tree branch while we’re passing time under the trees at the Prince Mohammed bin Nasser Hospital grounds. Incidentally, a flock of sparrow-looking birds hovered around the nests accompanied by one with vibrant yellow color.

At first, I thought they were common sparrows and the single yellow one was artificially dyed but consulting the internet proved it otherwise.

Formerly known as Canary Weaver and Oriole Weaver, the species is called the Ruppell’s Weaver (Ploceus galbula) named after the German zoologist Eduard Rüppell who first documented it during his travels in Eritrea.

The breeding males have vibrant yellow feathers with a reddish mask around the beak and eyes. Females and non-breeding males have dull color.

Interestingly, this weaver bird is polygynous. A male may breed up to three females. They can also stay in colonies of several males and up to 50 nests.

Which explains the presence of multiple nests around the same branches and the sightings of several common sparrow-looking birds with a single vibrant yellow one.

This small yellow weaver bird species is native to the Trans-Sahara and the Arabian Peninsula. It is the only weaver bird species normally found in the Middle East and originally inhabits Oman, Yemen, and the Southwestern region of Saudi Arabia.

However, a study published in January 2020 shows the species successfully established several colonies throughout the Eastern Province by means of escapes during pet trades since 2011.

These weaver birds are now starting to form colonies in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Further reports say these weaver birds are also commonly found in Jeddah. King Abdullah University of Science of Technology (KAUST) continuously reports sightings of the weaver birds year-round.

Here are a few more high-density royalty-free photos of the Ruppell’s Weaver birds I managed to download from Pixabay. Click on the image to enlarge.

I have always wanted to visit Jizan since I saw photos of the agricultural terraces in the Fayfa mountains and the Farasan Islands. However, the previous military unrest in its neighboring region of Yemen persuaded me to postpone my plans.

We traveled to Jizan during the COVID-19 pandemic purely for work. Sightseeing on the side is, unfortunately, out of the plan.

On the positive side, seeing these fascinating weaver birds made up for the lost travel opportunities to places I intended to visit in the province.

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