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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Quelea: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Quelea Fact File

Quelea birds are also known as dioch or red billed weavers belonging to the songbird family Ploceidae in Africa. These short tailed weaver birds hap up in huge flocks and destroy numerous crops and fields of Africa where they are originally found. Red billed queleas to have a yellow or reddish bill, eye ring, and legs, and a blotchy back. Queleas are most likely to feed on seeds of wild grasses, they still pose a threat to wheat.

Quelea flock also feed on buckwheat, grain, Italian millet, rice, barley, and other essential crops. Both the male and female red billed queleas attain sexual maturity in 730 days. These species breed so fast and in a very large number that they had to be destroyed to avoid field crop damage. Queleas are one of the most commonly bred bird species in this nation due to its high breeding rate. Another name of red-billed quelea is black-faced dioch.

Q Quelea aka black faced dioch birds cover 20% of the native continent region and destroy the food capacity of more than 25 countries. An average national estimate of annual loss of cereals by quelea ranges from $1 million to somewhere between $6.3 million, which is enough to destroy the economy of a third world country.

If you like this article, you may also check out the fact files on mealy parrot and peregrine falcon from Kidadl.

Quelea Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a quelea?

The quelea (Quelea Quelea) is a type of bird species belonging to the family of Ploceidae. It is quite popular in Sub Saharan Africa and is also known as the destroyer of crops in Africa. It is also known as red billed dioch. Quelea belong to the Passeriformes order family Ploceidae.

What class of animal does a quelea belong to?

Quelea, genus quelea, is a type of bird belonging to the Animalia kingdom and class Aves of Passeriformes order family Ploceidae.

How many quelea are there in the world?

According to the IUCN Red List, the conservation status of this weaver bird species is considered under Least Concern as they make estimated breeding population of 1.5 billion on Earth. The quelea flock are migratory in nature and are found in African countries like Sudan to Somalia and Tanzania, Gabon, Mozambique, and South Africa. A red billed dioch is the most bred bird of the world and migrates in huge flocks to the areas of fresh rainfall as soon as they run out of food. They were put down on a large scale through numerous preventive measures but none of it was considered feasible. This is because of the alarming rate of breeding in this species. They are found in colonies in Tanzania and other parts of Southern  Africa.

Where does a quelea live?

Quelea populations are found in Sub Saharan Africa, North and South African countries like Tanzania, Southern Niger, Gabon, Cameroon, Mozambique, Gambia, central Mali, Burkina Faso, southwestern and, Northern Nigeria, southern central. The red billed queleas population can be found in the distribution up to 9843 ft (3 km) above the sea level, but they are mostly seen 4921 ft (1.5 km) above sea level.  They are also found in the distribution Senegal, Chad, and the Central African Republic.

Red billed diochs are usually found in large numbers and are infamous all across southern Africa for their crop attacking nature. They usually feed on wild crops and essential food crops such as wheat, barley, rice. Despite every possible pest control major taken by African countries to deplete the population of this weaver bird, they are still an issue of major concern to the farmers. Although the weaver bird is common throughout Africa, large colonies are found in the distribution Kruger National Park. Due to their high migratory nature, it is quite difficult to find a colony.

What is a quelea's habitat?

Queleas live in different countries of Sub Saharan Africa, South Africa depending upon the availability of food. They usually prefer a location of heavy rainfall. They often migrate to the thorn scrub countries with fresh rainfall. They hunt crops in large numbers and move to another location when they run out of food.

Who do quelea live with?

Red billed queleas live and fly in groups called a flock. They migrate in huge flocks. The closest colony of weaver birds was found near South Cape Town.

How long does a quelea live?

The red billed quelea bird species live an average life of two to three years. However, a captive quelea bird was observed to live for 18 years. Within these two to three years they create an enormous and uncontrollable population. The breeding population is 1.5 billion.

How do they reproduce?

Red billed quelea birds breed in large colonies, the non-breeding quelea feed in flocks. These bird species breed their offspring in thick nests in trees. This usually begins when a male completes half of its nests and attempts to charm a female. When a female likes the male, they mate, and the female completes the other half of the nests and breeds. After the adult breeding, males and females end up feeding the chick with insects rich in protein, which is vital in the overall growth of the chick.

The adult breeding season of red billed quelea birds highly depends on the rainfall patterns. After years of study on this species, it is observed that red billed quelea birds breed after an average of 14 in (35.5 cm) of rainfall is observed in six weeks. These patterns were observed over the course of years. Quelea bird is found in Africa, where the rainfall season begins in November and ends in March. An enormous amount of Quelea colonies are found in the month of February.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of red billed weaver (Quelea Quelea) is least concerned as a matter of fact they are destroyed in large numbers in Africa to protect crops. However, after every pest control practice including pathogens, spraying of infested areas, quelea tox, and other electric devices, the red billed quelea still manage to top the list of the pests in Africa.

Quelea Fun Facts

What do quelea look like?

The red billed quelea bird, also known as Africa’s feathered locust, has a scaly feather appearance with short tailed, blotchy neck. It has a red billed in case of male and brownish/greyish head, plain crown, and a smooth eyebrow. The color for each sex depends on the season and maturity level. Weaver birds are small and sexually dimorphic in nature. The average height of red billed quelea is 4.7 in (12 cm) and it weighs approximately 0.5 lb (25 g).

Quelea is rich in protein.

How cute are they?

The bird red billed quelea is not cute. It is in fact the most hated bird in Africa. This native of sparrow can bring a company of 80 million of its own and can destroy farmland within seconds.

How do they communicate?

The red billed quelea populations generally communicate through using sound such as singing, calls to attract other sex for mating. The red Billed quelea has a very distinct sound due to many wing beats. After arriving at their colony, quelea make a lot of sounds before setting in. Both males and females make singing calls. The male sings like short bursts and the females follow by warbling tweedle-tweedle-tweedle Other of their sub species are often seen to whistle, squeak, warble, rattle, gulp, whine. They have a very strong communication sense because they are found alone in very rare cases and mostly fly in flocks in large numbers so the predators avoid attacking this bird. They are very extremely social in nature and breed a lot.

How big is a quelea?

A red billed quelea can usually grow up to 4.7 in (12 cm) in length. However, it's not the size that harms the public of South Africa but the flock this arrow native brings with them.

How fast can a quelea fly?

This native of sparrow can travel more than 36 miles (58 km) in the search of food. They can travel many times of the day depending on the availability of food. Queleas’ flock were seen to migrate to Europe and return back to South Africa. This means that a quelea flock can embark on an estimated journey of 4350 mi (7000 km).

How much does a quelea weigh?

The weight of a red billed weaver is around 0.5 lb (25 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Red billed quelea males and females do not have separate names.

What would you call a baby quelea?

A baby red billed quelea are called nestlings like most of the other baby birds.

What do they eat?

Quelea are granivores in nature, though they feed insects to their young for overall growth but they rarely depend on it. They feed on wild crops and seeds, and grain. They are usually seed and grain eaters.

Are they dangerous?

Queleas are not poisonous and due to their large number, it is advised to consider queleas as food. They are also rich in protein and would make a tasty meal with grain.

Would they make a good pet?

Queleas are destroyed in large numbers so petting them would be the last thing you should do. Anyway, queleas are more like flock animals and don't respond to captivity well so there is a very low chance quelea making a good family pet.

Did you know...

The red billed quelea is the second most populous bird and the most hated bird in South Africa.

Red bill quelea species has proved itself to be the most invasive living bird on earth. It negatively affects agriculture, endures extreme weather conditions, has proven to be invasive outside its native region. Moreover, its native region, capable of surviving from a wide range of food, negatively impacts the surroundings and livelihoods.

Preventative control measures to control the alarming populations of red billed quelea birds include SPS Measures, rapid responses, remote sensing early warning system. In addition to this other control measures were also applied. This includes containment, eradication, zoning, chemical, physical and mechanical control, public awareness, and integrated pest management. Despite all these efforts, this sparrow like species has seen to endure and rise above all of it. The primary reason for this is their uncontrollably high breeding rate.

Which African bird is the most abundant bird species in the world?

With the peak post breeding population of 1.5 billion, the red billed quelea from South Africa is the most abundant bird species in the world.

Does quelea migrate?

Yes, the red Billed quelea migrates at the beginning of the wet season towards areas where rain has already started weeks before. For the early rains migration, they accumulate a considerable amount of fat deposits. The distance flown by the migrants, the direction taken by them, and the timing of their movement depend on the timing of the rainfall and the way the rain front is moving. On their return journey, the breeding migration individuals stop to breed in a large aggregation. They stop wherever they can find conditions that are suitable for creating a colony.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Scottish crossbill facts and Australian pelican facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Quelea coloring pages.

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