This species has a small, rapidly declining and severely fragmented population as a result of the loss and degradation of terai grasslands, principally through conversion to agriculture and overgrazing. These factors qualify it as Vulnerable.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationPloceus megarhynchus
17 cm. Large weaver with yellow rump, uppertail-coverts, head and underparts and dark ear-coverts. Heavily streaked mantle, back and scapulars. Female is duller with paler, more buff-tinged yellow parts, particularly crown and nape. Similar spp. Female/non-breeding male Baya Weaver P. philippinus is smaller with shorter, narrower bill and lacks dark lateral breast-patch. Voice Song is subdued twit-twit-tit-t-t-t-t-t-trrrrr wheeze whee wee we. Calls a harsh twit-twit etc.
is endemic to the terai of the northern Indian subcontinent, where it is known from disjunct populations in Delhi and northern Uttar Pradesh, India
and adjacent extreme western Nepal
, and from eastern Nepal to Assam (BirdLife International 2001). It has always been very locally distributed, and the disappearance of several colonies in recent decades indicates that it is declining. The population in Nepal is estimated at fewer than 50 birds and declining (C. Inskipp and H. Baral in litt
. 2012). The global population is currently put at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals; however, it has been suggested that there could be fewer than 3,000 mature individuals (R. Bhargava per
A. Rahmani in litt
. 2012).Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, based on an analysis of records in BirdLife International (2001) suggesting the population is unlikely to exceed 10,000 individuals and may well fall well short of this. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. However, it has been suggested that the total population could number fewer than 3,000 mature individuals (R. Bhargava per
A. Rahmani in litt
. 2012).Trend justification
A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected to be occurring, owing to the conversion of terai habitats for agriculture, as well as the effects of trapping for the cage-bird trade. The recent disappearance of colonies from previously occupied sites supports this projected trend.Ecology
It inhabits terai marshes and extensive stands of Imperata, Narenga,
grassland, particularly those that are seasonally inundated, with well-scattered trees, and occasionally interspersed with patchy rice and sugarcane cultivation. It is gregarious, foraging in flocks and breeding (May-September) in colonies. Nests are built in trees, reedbeds, or extensive stands of tall grass. Whilst its movements are poorly understood, populations appear to wander erratically.Threats
The main threat is the rapid and extensive loss and modification of its habitat. This has occurred as a result of drainage, conversion to agriculture (primarily rice-paddy, sugarcane, mustard and tea), overgrazing by domestic livestock and grass harvesting for thatch production. These threats are compounded by capture for the live bird trade.
During the last 60 years, the Terai region has been almost totally converted to human-dominated landscape with agricultural farms, orchards, factories, canals, roads, expanding villages and cities, and very rapid human population growth. The rising population of crows (Corvus splendens
and Corvus macrorhynchos
), related to garbage and human habitations, is another threat to the nesting colonies (Bhargava 2000). Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected in India, and trapping and trade of the species has been banned since 1991. It has been recorded from Kaziranga, R. G. Orang, Dibru-Saikhowa and Manas National Parks, Assam, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal, Corbett National Park (or at least nearby), Uttar Pradesh, and Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct widespread interviews with bird-trappers to identify population centres, followed by field surveys in remaining habitat to establish its distribution and status. Extend, upgrade, link (where possible) existing protected areas and establish new ones in order to conserve remaining tracts of natural grassland across its range. Control livestock-grazing in protected areas to reduce rates of habitat loss and degradation. Promote conservation awareness initiatives focusing on sustainable management of grassland to maximise both thatch productivity for local people and available habitat for threatened grassland birds. Upgrade its legal protection status to Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species
Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.
Baral, H., Choudhury, A., Inskipp, C., Rahmani, A.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ploceus megarhynchus. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 07/02/2016.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 07/02/2016.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
Additional resources for this species