24 March 2021

Ruppell’s Weaver breeding – Dhahran Hills

A local nature enthusiast found three Weaver nests in his garden in Dhahran Hills in early March 2021. This species has only once been recorded in the Dhahran area with a single male seen. There were at least two birds seen this time with the bird building the nest presumably an immature male with the plumage and eye colour pointing to Ruppell’s Weaver. This is only the second time I am aware of, of the species breeding in the Eastern Province. The first records of breeding in the Eastern Province were found in Qatif in mid-March 2016 and the birds were seen nest building with the male building the nest and the female looking on. This species does not normally occur in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom so these birds may have been from escaped or released cage birds as is the case with the species in Riyadh the nearest area where they occur. In Saudi Arabia Ruppell’s Weaver is a common and widespread breeding resident species in the southwest of the Kingdom occurring north to south of Jeddah. These records suggest the species may be extending its range Eastwards or at least setting up breeding groups from escaped birds.