About animals

Reel Weavers (Ragweavers) - Estrildidae - family


(Estrildidae) Family Astrilidae Astrilidae birds, Spinning weavers, Family Estrildidae

Life of animals. Volume 5. Birds Edited by Professor L.A. Zenkevich 1970

The order of passerines covers a huge number of species and a large number of families. More than half (according to the estimates of the well-known ornithologist Mayr, 63%) of the species of birds inhabiting the Earth belong to this order. However, the proportion of passerines in the avifauna is not always the same. Most of them are in forests of warm and hot latitudes, the more north, the number of passerines is absolutely and relatively reduced. For example, in the tundra of the north-east of the European part of the USSR, only 29% of the total number of species recorded there belong to the order Passeriformes, and in the north of the Yakut ASSR they are even less.
Sparrows are birds of medium and small size. The largest representative of the detachment - the raven weighs 1100-1600 g, the smallest passerine fauna of the USSR (korolek) weigh 5-7 g. In tropical countries, some nectaries weigh 3-4 g. Outwardly passerines are very diverse. Their beak is of various shapes, often more or less straight, but it also has a long curved, sometimes short, massive, sometimes triangular, flattened plan from top to bottom, with a wide cut in the mouth. In crossbills, the beak and beak are crossed. Tarsus and fingers of moderate length, fingers 4, with the first finger facing back. The claws are bent, only the back (first) finger can sometimes have a long and more or less straight claw. Wings can be long and fairly sharp (like swallows) or short and blunt. The number of primary fly-birds is 10–11, and minor 9. Sometimes the innermost secondary fly-birds are noticeably elongated, they form a so-called pigtail, as, for example, in wagtails. There are usually 12 feathers, rarely more (up to 16) or fewer (total 6). The very first flyover is often underdeveloped and can only be detected with a thorough inspection of the wing. The tail has a diverse shape. It can be long or short, directly cut or rounded, stepped, wedge-shaped, fork-shaped. Sexual dimorphism is expressed in size, voice, often in the color of plumage, sometimes in the development of male Ukrainians and decorating feathers. The brain in passerines is highly developed.
Most species of passerines are associated with woody and shrubby vegetation. Some of them, for example, pikas, nuthatch, kings and others, spend almost all their lives in trees. Some (swallows) can be called inhabitants of the air. There are relatively few terrestrial species (larks, except for yule, wagtails, heaters, chasing).
Sparrows are monogamous chicks. Their chicks hatch from eggs helpless, blind, naked or covered only with rare fluff. At least 10 days, until they rest, they are in the nest where parents bring them food. Feeding the chicks continues for some time after their departure from the nest. For passerines, a device of carefully made nests is characteristic, some species (remezi, corpse) are particularly distinguished in this regard. The places where the nests are placed are diverse. Many species nest on the ground, others in burrows, on stones and in crevices of rocks, many birds nest on trees (on branches and hollows) and shrubs, and some species (for example, swallows) in human buildings. The choice of a nesting place is usually made by the male, who, as a rule, flies to the nesting place somewhat earlier than the female.
Passerine eggs are medium-sized, usually variegated, but sometimes, more often in species that nest in hollows, are monophonic. In clutch there are often 4-6 eggs, in some species of tits there are up to 15-16, in some Australian species in clutch there is only 1 egg. Many species have two clutches a year, less often one or three. Widely distributed species may have one clutch in the north of the range, and three in the south. Sometimes both clutches are so close in time that the female begins to build a second nest and lay eggs before the chicks of the first conclusion become independent. The first generation of chicks (for example, in the blackbird reeds) then re-educates the male.
Sparrows usually begin to incubate after laying all the eggs, but in many species incubation begins with the penultimate egg, in some from the middle of the clutch, and few species (crossbills, crows) begin to incubate after laying the first egg. The duration of incubation in most species is 11-14 days, but the raven incubates for 19-20 days, and the lyre bird is about 45 days. Nestlings grow quickly and leave the nest in species nesting on the ground in 10-11 days (in larks even after 9 days). But in hollow and noro nests, chicks fly out later, for example, in a tit on the 23rd, and in a nuthatch on the 26th day of life. Both parents are fed, with rare exceptions, both parents.
For the nesting outfit of many passerines (redstart, flycatcher, thrush, etc.) a peculiar scaly pattern is characteristic, the nestling outfit of the larks is characterized by the presence of peculiar light mottles. In many other cases, young chicks are similar in color to females.
Puberty usually occurs at the age of one year, and in the raven later at two years of age. At the same time, an adult outfit is acquired. Sparrow molting happens once a year, complete. A bright spring outfit of many species is acquired not as a result of molting, but as a result of exposure of the dull edges of feathers, which covered the brighter middle part of the feather.
The food of passerines is diverse. Some species are omnivorous (raven), others feed on plant foods and only nestlings are fed by insects, most species are carnivorous. The vast majority of passerines are useful birds. Very many passerines lead a sedentary life, but most species inhabiting places with a sharp change in seasonal conditions of existence are migratory.
Sparrow birds are widespread throughout the globe, most of them in hot countries, in the Antarctic they are not. In the mountains, some species rise to the alpine zone.
The order includes about 5100 species of birds. All of them, despite significant differences in appearance and biological features, are essentially uniform, and in many cases it is not possible to find a sufficiently substantiated criterion to divide the order into families, to establish their volume and order in the system.
Based on the structure of the vocal cords, toes, and other structural features and lifestyle, passerines are divided into 4 suborders: Eurylaimi with one family and 14 species living in Africa and Southeast Asia, screaming (Clamatores, or Tyranni) with 14 families and almost 1,100 species that inhabit mainly South America, including a small number of North America and the tropics of the Eastern hemisphere, semi-singing (Menurae) with 2 families and 4 species inhabiting Australia, Oscines, widely distributed around the world, numbering the most shee number of species (about 4000) and joinable in 49 families. In total, the squad, therefore, 66 families. The greatest ambiguities in the taxonomy of families are in the singing suborder. We adhere (with some derogations) to the arrangement of families in the song-songbird suborder, recommended by the international meeting of ornithologists in Basel in 1964. This corresponds to the order adopted in the “List of birds of the world” (Check-list the Birds of the World) and the arrangement of families in the “Identifier of birds of the USSR” N. A. Gladkova, G. P. Dementieva, E. S. Ptushenko, A M. Sudilovskaya (1964). In "A Dictionary of Birds" (A New dictionary of Birds), published in 1964 under the general editorship of L. Thomson, the same order.
It is characterized by a complex device of the lower larynx and the presence of a large number (usually 7 pairs) of vocal muscles. Many species (but not all) have a developed ability to sing. Singers are very widespread: their distribution area coincides with the distribution area of ​​the entire detachment. Suborder 49 families.
Weaver Family (Ploceidae)
This is a species-rich group of passerines, close to the family of finch. Different species have adapted to a wide variety of conditions, but most are arboreal. The sizes of weavers are from a feather to a large thrush. Their physique is dense, their head is round, their neck is short. The beak is conical in shape. The wings of most species are short and rounded.
On the island of Java and in other parts of Asia, there is a rice, or Javanese sparrow (Munia oryzivora) (Table 61). This type of weaver has a strongly swollen beak and an elongated pair of middle tail feathers. In the male, the upper side of the head, the nuft and tail are black, the cheeks are pure white, the remaining parts of the plumage are of a uniform gray-steel color. By the nature of its nutrition, rice is a grain-eating bird, and in its homeland it causes great damage to rice fields.
As a cell bird, rice was brought to Europe in ancient times.

The number of species in "sister" taxa

familyReel Weavers (Wokweaver)EstrildidaeBonaparte1850
infra squadSparrowPasserida
suborder / orderSingersOscines
squad / orderSparrowPasseriformes
superorder / orderNewborn birds (Typical birds)NeognathaePycroft1900
infraclassReal Birds (Foxtail Birds)NeornithesShadow1893
subclassCalabash Birds (Fanfowl)Carinatae Ornithurae (Neornithes) Ornithurae (Neornithes)Merrem1813
the classBirdsAves
subtype / subdivisionVertebrates (Cranial)Vertebrata (craniata)
type / departmentChordateChordata
overtypeCoelomic animalsCoelomata
sectionBilateral Symmetric (Three Layer)Bilateria (Triploblastica)
kingdomMulticellular animalsMetazoa

Male birds have to choose between attractive color and song beauty

Sexual selection, which is based on the struggle for the success of reproduction, can potentially act as a powerful factor in speciation. This role is confirmed by mathematical models and individual works, however, many attempts at a broader analysis did not reveal the expected connection. The team of British ornithologists wondered: is it always correct in such studies to evaluate the strength of sexual selection? It is usually assumed that sexual selection will affect all the signs associated with the struggle for partners and fertility. Often, sexual dimorphism in color is used as an indicator of sexual selection - color differences between males and females. However, the visual channel is not the only one that can be involved in attracting a partner. So, for many birds, acoustic signals serve this purpose. Using the Passeriformes order as an example, the authors of a new study demonstrated that there is a compromise between the development of two systems for attracting a partner: the advantages of males are mainly manifested either in vocalization or in appearance. This means that it is simply impossible to evaluate the role of sexual selection by only one group of signs.

Songbirds have an extra chromosome

In songbirds (Passeri suborder), most body cells contain 40 pairs of chromosomes. In 1998, an additional chromosome in germ cells was found in zebra amadins, and in 2014, in their relatives, Japanese amadins. Then this find was considered as a genetic curiosity. It was present in the germ cells of females, as well as in the precursors of the germ cells of males, but it was also “thrown out” of them during sperm maturation.

A group led by Pavel Borodin from the Novosibirsk Institute of Cytology and Genetics SB RAS studied 14 species of songbirds from nine different families, as well as eight species of birds that are not songbirds - geese, ducks, chickens, pigeons, gulls, swifts, falcons, parrots. In all song species, an additional chromosome was found in germ cells, while in other species it was not.

“We found that, unlike other birds and most other animals, all the studied songbird species contain different numbers of chromosomes in somatic and germ cells. All of them, literally every examined bird, have an extra chromosome in germ cells (COD). We have shown that the most common birds have an extra chromosome: squirrels, swallows, tits, flytraps, larks and rooks (rooks also belong to songbirds). Moreover, an additional chromosome is absent in birds of all other orders, ”said Borodin N + 1.

He and his colleagues identified and decoded separate sections of additional chromosomes in the siskin, pale swallow, zebra amadina, and Japanese amadina and found numerous fragments of the functional genes of the main genome there. Simultaneously with the Borodin group, two independent research groups found (1, 2) that the chromosomes in the germ cells of the zebra amadina contain genes that are similar but not identical to the genes of somatic cells. Some of these genes are present in multiple copies and produce RNA and proteins in the testes and ovaries of mature birds.

“We suggest that COD emerged as an additional parasitic microchromosome in the common ancestor of all songbirds about 35 million years ago and underwent significant changes in size and genetic content, turning from a“ genomic parasite ”into an important component of the genome of germ cells. We do not yet know why it is needed and what advantages it can give its carriers. Perhaps it was she who allowed songbirds to become the largest suborder (more than 5 thousand out of a total of 9-10 thousand bird species), create many forms, beautiful and amazing, and capture many ecological niches on all continents, ”the scientist noted.

Scientists believe that the COD of songbirds can be seen as an evolutionary attempt to locally and temporarily increase the number of copies of the desired genes without increasing the total genome size and body weight. Birds need additional copies of genes in germ cells for a short breeding period just to produce a lot of sperm and load oocytes with a large amount of protein. And copies of these genes are not needed all year round and in all somatic cells.

“If we take into account that the COD of swallows, tits, reeds and many other small birds weighs about 0.1 picogram, and the whole genome - 1.2 picogram, it turns out to be a pretty heavy burden to carry, and not just carry, but also feed, drink and propagate throughout life in all cells of the body. A set of genes for reproduction is more convenient to store in a small tool box, ”said Borodin.


The numerous (over 120 species) family of finch weavers is well known to lovers of indoor birds, who have long paid attention to beautiful, captive, unpretentious birds. The domestication process for some representatives of this family began as early as the 17th century, and now hundreds of generations have already been obtained under cellular conditions, completely domesticated races, in particular, species such as the Japanese Amadina (Lonchura striata), Rice (Padda oryzivora) and etc. In popularity among lovers of domestic birds, finch weavers successfully compete with budgies.

In most species, females are similar to males. Both sexes participate in reproduction, starting from the choice of a place for the nest and ending with the departure of the chicks, however, only the male brings grass for the nest. Nests settle on trees, bushes, sometimes in grass and even on the surface of the soil, rarely in hollows and old weaver nests.

Quiet singing is not used to mark the territory, but it is accompanied by complex current behavior. The current male bounces high, stretching out with his whole body and holding a stalk or feather in his beak.The pose of the female inviting for mating is characterized by vertical trembling of the tail, and not of the wings, as in the other weavers. The begging pose of a chick, throwing its head far back, is also different. Chicks are fed semi-digested food from goiter, coming in a continuous stream, and not in portions, as in some finches. Therefore, other birds are not able to feed their chicks. Spots on the palate, outgrowths of the beak and at the base of the chick's tongue are an important optical signal for adults. If you change the pattern of spots, adults stop feeding the chicks.

Most species live in Africa, few in South Asia, Australia is the second center of their distribution.

Reel weavers are friendly and not aggressive towards each other, willingly settle in clusters, love to clean their plumage, sing a lot.

Among African species, the mustachioed astrid (Sporopipes squamifrons) is interesting because, living in the Kalahari desert, it can go without water for up to two months a year, being content with water from the seeds that it eats. In the forests of Ghana and Angola, up to East Africa, the insectivorous insectivorous Astrild (Parmoptila woodhousei) lives, on the contrary, the variegated Astrild (Pytilia melba), which feeds on seeds, inhabits the dry steppes with shrubs south of the Sahara desert, and the undulating Astrild (Estrilda astrild) , banks of streams, reeds.

Among the Australian species, the most famous are the zebra astrid (Taeniopygia guttata) and the sharp-tailed Amadina (Poephila acuticauda), which is able to drink like pigeons continuously for 20 s without taking its heads off the surface of the water. An amazingly beautiful guild amadina (Chloebia gouldiae) arranges its nests in hollows, the chicks of which have warts in the corners of their beaks that reflect light and seem to glow in the darkness of the hollow.

Causing serious damage to grain farming, rice (Padda oryzivora) lives in forests, gardens, shrubs and feeds on the seeds of wild and cultivated cereals. Java and Bali are its ancestral home, however, this species is now widely spread and has become common everywhere in South Asia, causing growing concern among farmers.

Reel weavers, or astrid (Latin Estrildidae) - a family of songbirds from the order of passerines. / (Wikipedia)