|Dial in to PHOWN !
PHOWN (PHotos Of Weaver Nests) is a monitoring project aimed at determining the distribution of colonies or nests of all weaver species globally. Counting weaver nests and taking photos allows tracking of changes in weaver breeding effort. Many weavers are common and this project provides an easy way of monitoring them, while some weaver species are threatened and this project would help their conservation.
The software for the ADU Virtual Museum projects were written by Rene Navarro and the current software allows users to submit photos directly to the web, rather than emailing photos. PHOWN is the fourth Virtual Museum project and is being launched in time for the 2010 breeding season. In the Western Cape Southern Masked and Cape Weavers have started to build nests.
Anyone can view photos submitted to the ADU Virtual Museums (http://vmus.adu.org.za). You do not need to be registered. Click on the Project (eg Photos of Weaver Nests), and then in the menu on the left you can select "Search VM". In the Search form, you can select the "Search" button to see all photos, or scroll down to the "Search by English name:" button. In the menu on the left, click "Species maps" to see the distribution of colonies in South Africa. Colonies submitted outside SA are not viewable yet on this map, but are in the database and the map will be expanded later.
To submit photos you need to register as an ADU participant and obtain a password. Then find weaver nests and start taking photos! More details on the project may be found at http://weavers.adu.org.za/phown.php.
All weavers in the family Ploceidae are included – a species list appears on the weaver’s web. All countries where weavers breed in the wild are included, even introduced populations, but excluding captive birds. Photos taken in previous years may be submitted if you know the exact locality of the nests. Your photos need to be accepted by the Project Coordinator first before you can see them on the public web - this will typically be within one day.
The project was launched on 29 July and 42 records were submitted during the first week. There are records for 20 weaver species. Most records are from South Africa, 3 from Namibia and 3 from Rwanda. The most northerly record is of a Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus, a colony of 6 nests in Rwanda, recorded by Claassen Marcell.
What is an ADU Virtual Museum? The ADU use of the term "museum" is not to be interpreted as the display part of a museum that is open to the public. The real museum consists of endless drawers full of neatly catalogued specimens (date, place, species, collector), with lots of replicates of a single species - these are the specimens used for research into distribution, taxonomy, etc. The ADU's museums are "virtual" as they contain digital images of specimens. For example, a picture of every Sociable Weaver nest on a telephone pole in the Northern Cape, together with the date and place and photographer, could be submitted to neatly catalogue in our database.
H Dieter Oschadleus, email@example.com
(The photo is a golden weaver’s nest over a pond)