Meet the fox’s weaver Uganda’s only endemic bird and listed as globally near threatened species. The fox’s weaver, scientifically known as Ploceus spekeoides, belongs to the ploceidae family and inhabits the moist savanna, subtropical, tropical and seasonally wet swamps around Lira and Soroti districts mostly in the vicinity of Lake Bisina and Opeta and possibly extending to the main Lake Kyoga system. The papyrus fringed lakes together with the wooded grasslands that are spread throughout the Eastern region are a very good breeding place for the fox’s weaver.
The Fox’s weaver is in close resemblance with the Speke’s weaver only that it has darker upper parts , due to its narrower yellow feather edges; shorter wing tail, larger. However in the past years many of these eco systems have been tampered with a due to need of land for settlement, Grazing and farming which in turn has led to the decline in its numbers later on its sightings. Early this year a senior birder from Journeys Uganda set out for a birding expedition in hope to catch a glance of it but in vain. He reported that he last sighted it in July 2014 but another colleague of his affirms that he has sighted it on a trip to Awoja Bridge between soroti and Kumi early this year
Aside from its status of globally near threatened the Uganda bird atlas states it as regionally near threatened and data deficiency. This can be attributed to the fact that the specie is very poorly known and its numbers are very low with no population estimates even available. Very little research has been done about them, and their numbers are assumed to be dropping due to the limited sightings in the expected areas.
Good news is Nature Uganda has secured a grant from the African birding club to survey the species preferred habitat to gauge population, breeding density and success, threats and distribution which will change everything hopefully. They further are seeking more grants to ensure the survival of the fox’s weaver a bird that Uganda prides in as being endemic to only Uganda. So far not much has been yielded from Nature Uganda‘s efforts but we are still hopeful.
The Wayans’s Weaver Ploceus weynsi and Clarke’s Weaver Ploceus golandi provide a slight ray of hope due to its similarity to with the fox’s weaver and exbits totally different habitats outside of the breeding season. Hopefully Nature Uganda along with other related bodies can quickly find a solution to the declining number of Uganda’s only endemic bird. Stand a chance to catch a glance of this unique beauty before he completely vanishes on a birding trip with one of Journeys top birding guides in the Country.