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Usambara Weaver Ploceus nicolli
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This species occurs at low densities and is assumed to have a very small, declining and severely fragmented population, with each subpopulation being extremely small. In the light of these factors this species is listed as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

13-14 cm. Medium-sized, nuthatch-like weaver of forest. Most likely to be seen in the upper strata and canopy only. Matt black upperparts. Dark brown, almost black, head with dull yellow forehead and yellowish nuchal patch. Lemon-yellow underparts. Below the blackish bib there is a diffuse orange-brown patch, broadest at its centre. Female similar but with brown head. Bright yellow eye in both sexes. Bill black. Similar spp. Forest Weaver P. bicolor lacks chestnut breast-band and has ivory coloured bill. Voice Soft but rather high pitched si swee-ee. Rather vocal when feeding. Voice not far from that of Grey Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina caesia. Hints Shy. Most frequently seen above 1,400 m in Mazumbai forest, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania.

Distribution and population
Ploceus nicolli occurs at low densities in the East and West Usambara, Uluguru and Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania. In the West Usambaras, the nominate subspecies occurs in small numbers at Shume, Magamba and Mazumbai (N. Baker in litt. 1999). In the East Usambaras, it is fairly common at two sites within the Nilo Forest Reserve (Cordeiro 1998, Seddon et al. 1999b) - probably the subspecies's last remaining stronghold (Seddon et al. 1999b). P. n. anderseni is found in the Uluguru Mountains (three records, all from Uluguru North Forest Reserve (Svendsen and Hansen 1995), but not recorded during surveys in 1999-2001 [Burgess et al. 2002]) and the Udzungwa Mountains, including Udzungwa National Park, Ndundulu Forest and the Nyumbanitu Mountains, as well as in a tiny patch of forest c.95 km east of Iringa and in the Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve (D. Moyer in litt. 1999). There is a possible record from the Rubeho Mountains, but this has not been confirmed (Fjeldså et al. 1997). The total population has been guessed to number over 1,000 individuals (Seddon et al. 1999b). However, the population in the Udzungwas alone might number 1,000-2,000 individuals (L. Hansen in litt. 2007), although it has been conservatively guessed at 'some hundred' (Dinesen et al. 2001).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's forest habitat is being cleared, altered and fragmented for agriculture, plantations and timber extraction (Svendsen and Hansen 1995; Cordeiro 1998), thus the population is suspected to be in decline at an unknown rate.

It inhabits montane evergreen forest, as well as forest edge (Zimmerman et al. 1996) and disturbed forest (Cordeiro 1998). Birds have also been seen in plantations and in cultivated areas, but only where mature trees still exist (Seddon et al. 1999b). It usually occurs in mixed-species parties, often with P. bicolor, feeding in the upper canopy, gleaning insects from epiphyte-covered branches (Svendsen and Hansen 1995, Cordeiro 1998).

The increasing human population throughout its range is clearing or altering forest for agriculture, replacing natural forest with plantations, cutting timber and collecting firewood, resulting in loss, degradation and fragmentation of the species's habitat (Svendsen and Hansen 1995, Cordeiro 1998). Although the main montane forest block (120 km2) in the Ulugurus is protected by its inaccessible terrain, the lower slopes are being steadily cleared. Forest in the Ulugurus declined from c.300 km2 in 1955 to c.230 km2 in 2001, mostly due to clearance for cultivation below 1,600 m (Burgess et al. 2002). In Nilo Forest Reserve, understory cultivation (mainly of cardamom) occurs in c.36% of the forest, and a further 6% is cultivated for arable crops (Cordeiro 1998). Habitat in the Nyumbanitu Mountains, Ukami and Ndundulu Forests and Udzungwa National Park has recently been affected by the clearing of broad tourist trails, allowing easier access by hunters and predatory mammals (L. Hansen in litt. 2007). Aside from this degradation, the species's habitat in the Udzungwas is not seen as being immediately threatened, although pressure is increasing (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Underway
Conservation action at some sites focuses on assisting local initiatives and increasing the involvement of local communities in forest management (Buckley and Matilya 1998, L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). The Udzungwa localities fall within forest catchment reserves or have national park status (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct a survey to assess the species's population size across its range, and survey the Rubeho Mountains to confirm previous reports of the species's occurrence. Monitor population and habitat trends. Establish a coordinated management scheme for Mt Nilo Forest Reserve and adjacent forest in the East Usambaras (Cordeiro 1998). Improve the management of existing protected areas within the species's range. Increase the area of suitable habitat that is covered by protected areas or community-based forest management.

Buckley, P.; Matilya, J. G. 1998. Saving Tanzania's mountain forests. World Birdwatch 20: 16-19.

Burgess, N.; Doggart, N.; Lovett, J. C. 2002. The Uluguru Mountains of eastern Tanzania: the effect of forest loss on biodiversity. Oryx 36: 140-152.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Cordeiro, N. J. 1998. A preliminary survey of the montane avifauna of Mt Nilo, East Usambaras, Tanzania. Scopus 20: 1-18.

Dinesen, L.; Lehmberg, T.; Rahner, M. C.; Fjeldsa, J. 2001. Conservation priorities for the forests of the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania, based on primates, duikers and birds. Biological Conservation 99: 223-236.

Fjeldså, J.; Howell, K.; Andersen, M. 1997. An ornithological visit to the Rubeho Mountains, Tanzania. Scopus 19: 73-82.

Seddon, N.; Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Capper, D. R.; Isherwood, I. S.; Muna, R.; Pople, R. G.; Tarimo, E.; Timothy, J. 1999. The importance of the Nilo and Nguu North Forest Reserves for the conservation of montane forest birds in Tanzania. Biological Conservation 87: 59-72.

Svendsen, J. O.; Hansen, L. A. 1995. Report on the Uluguru Biodiversity Survey 1993. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds/Tanzania Forestry Research Institute/Centre for Tropical Biodiversity, Sandy, U.K.

Zimmerman, D. A.; Turner, D. A.; Pearson, D. J. 1996. Birds of Kenya and northern Tanzania. Helm, London.

Further web sources of information
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Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Baker, N., Dinesen, L., Hansen, L., Moyer, D.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ploceus nicolli. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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

ARKive species - Usambara weaver (Ploceus nicolli) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Ploceidae (Weavers and allies)
Species name author Sclater, 1931
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,900 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change