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Waxbill, Blue

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Jumbo

Waxbill, Blue

Unread postby Jumbo » Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:14 am

This is one of my favourite birds. I don’t think there is any other animal that has this specific baby-blue colour.

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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:27 am

I love them as well ... They look so cheery yet gloomy ..

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Unread postby bert » Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:36 am

And always at camps and picnic spots 8)

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:26 pm

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Re: Waxbill: Blue Waxbill

Unread postby Catherine » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:08 pm

This is my number-one favourite bird, I never tire of seeing them. And you are usually lucky enough to see fire finches and the odd melba finch at the same time as they tend to mingle. I've also seen the violet-eared waxbill in their company. Yet I've never been able to take a particularly good photo of one, certainly not one good enough to enlarge and frame - aiming to try again on our next visit in September 2007 with the new digital SLR camera that we are saving up for!

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:26 am

Saw these little beauties quite often on our recent trip. At one point they came to drink @ our tap in LS camping spot.
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Unread postby Wild about cats » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:08 pm

Seen at Skukuza reception:
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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:22 pm

The Blue Waxbill, Uraeginthus angolensisis, is one of South Africa's most striking finches, with males darker than females. They are restricted to the drier eastern and northerly regions of the country. Although it is a ground-feeding seed-eater it will take insects when the opportunity arises. They often feed in mixed groups in open tracts in thornveld.

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Blue waxbills build their nests of fine grass stems like the bit this male is carrying. The nest is a ball-like structure with a spout-like side entrance leading to a central chamber that is lined with feathers.

They normally lay three to four eggs. Their breeding cycle, like many small birds, is over within one month. The eggs take up to twelve days to hatch and the chicks fly within three weeks. Most small bird species will breed more that once during a prolonged rainy season, while the conditions are right.

They breed mainly from December to May.
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:13 am

Cannot recall seeing any in Kruger other than at Croc Bridge campsite.
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Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:48 am

I saw one at the tented camp at Lower Sabie. It was very shy, very active and very beautiful.
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Unread postby Freda » Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:44 am

I believe the blue waxbill builds it's nest near a wasps nest for protection, is this true ?

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:52 am

This is a lekker bit of waxbill trivia...

... about them building their nests near those of wasps, for protection against predators, so the bush legend goes... :lol:

As a matter of fact Blue waxbills often use the old nests of scarlet-chested sunbirds or spectacled weavers or even use a black-chested prinia nest as the base on which to build their own nest. Even in these instances wasp nests are found in the vicinity, but there is no evidence that this is seen by any of these birds as a deterrent to predators. It is more likely that healthy wasp nests act as indicators that the area is clear of arboreal (tree-dwelling) ants, which, if present, could swamp both wasp and bird nests, causing them to be deserted. So, the birds may actively look for wasp nests, but for a different reason!
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Unread postby Freda » Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:48 am

Found this bit of info in Sasol Birds - The Inside Story.
:?

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:27 am

Freda wrote:Found this bit of info in Sasol Birds - The Inside Story.
:?


The "inside" story, nogal... :lol:

Yes, it is rather amazing! :shock:

During the first KNP BBW I went to this story came up and a very clever lady (can't remember her name anymore) who was our expert at Shingwedzi refuted the bush legend much as I recounted earlier. After reading your post I went into my birding bible (Roberts VII) and found much the same explanation there, so I am happy to stick to the info I gave :lol:

However, if one thinks about it, it is really just the various authors hypothesizing as to an explanation for this phenomenon... I mean, even the Roberts author is suggesting an "alternative" explanation for this behaviour; there is no evidence quoted as the basis for the arboreal ants theory! It will be grand if we could find some conclusion based on research as to the real reason for birds building their nests near those of wasps.

Let's see if we get some real experts to contribute.

Well done, Freda, great work on finding that info.
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Jumbo

Unread postby Jumbo » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:38 pm

In January a pair of Blue Waxbills started to build a nest in the Knob-thorn tree right in font of our veranda in Marloth…about 2m from where we normally sit. They were not really bothered by us and we were looking forward to watching the whole “show” of them breeding.

The nest (please forgive, not great photos :redface: )

Image Larger view

One day I was working outside when the nest fell out of the tree. I picked it up …amazing how finely woven it is. Getting myself caught in the thorns of the tree a few times I managed to put the nest back…first also battled to find the entrance so that I can put it back the same way it was.
That afternoon I told a (very clever :wink: ) friend the whole story and he told me about the wasp nest thing….my hubby then mentioned that he actually saw a wasp nest next to the bird’s nest the previous day…and true as bob, right next to the nest were the wasps. Thank goodness the wasps were in a “happy” mood when I was fiddling around there to get the nest back…I didn’t even see them!! :shock:

On this photo you can see the wasps and the birds’ nest at the bottom right.

Image Larger view

I’m NO expert on birds…but all I can add is that this specific tree is full of those big ants…we normally put out fruit for the birds and bushbabies in this tree and there are always hordes of ants in it???

After I placed the nest back, the birds happily retuned and tried to fix the places where I accidentally squashed the nest….the thorns were really getting me. They however, after a couple of days, dismantled the whole nest….presume they used the material to build somewhere else.


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