IELTS Academic Reading Practice 89

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 14-26.

Questions 14-20

The reading passage has seven sections, A-G.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-G from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-xi in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. How the young are nurtured
  2. The population of the weaver bird is facing extinction
  3. Providing prey for other species
  4. The negative effect they have on the human population
  5. How the weaver has adapted to changing environments
  6. The problems involved in assessing bird population
  7. Its role in the evolution of indigenous peoples of the area
  8. Physical aspects of the breed
  9. Industrialisation and the threat it poses to the weaver bird
  10. The damage the birds cause to their natural surroundings
  11. The birds gathering together and their dietary habits

14. Section A
15. Section B
16. Section C
17. Section D
18. Section E
19. Section F
20. Section G
Questions 21-23

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 21-23 on your answer sheet.

21 The appearance of the weaver bird is...

22 When feeding weaver birds...

23 Because of their large numbers weaver birds...

Questions 24-26

Complete the sentences below.  

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 24-26 on your answer sheet.

It takes the weaver bird several days to construct a containing up to 5 eggs.

When the birds feed they move forward causing a .

can result from vast numbers of birds arriving in one single area.


Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
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    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Wild Weaving Birds

Section A

Of all bird species in the world, the most abundant type appears to be the red-billed quelea, a species which lives only on the African continent. According to biologists and ornithologists, the number of red-billed quelea sits at about around 10 billion, with 1.5 billion breeding pairs, though calculating an accurate number for their population is a challenge due to the vast number of birds. Living in colonies in numbers from the tens of thousands all the way to the millions of pairs, huge nomadic groups of red-billed quelea in flight may spend up to five hours passing an area overhead.

Section B

As a reference to the way it builds its nest, the red-billed quelea is sometimes known as the “weaver bird.” Adult birds grow to about 12 cm in length with a weight of 15-20 grams, making these small birds roughly the size of a finch. Changes in the seasons affect both males and females, who may appear differently throughout the year. During breeding periods, male birds’ plumage is termed “polymorphic,” meaning that the colors or markings on individual birds’ feathers will differ, as combinations of pink, purple, black, white, and yellow may mark the heads and necks of male birds. Meanwhile, male breast and crowns may appear in shades of yellow to bright red, with facial markings of white and black masks. Outside of the breeding season, male and female birds appear similarly, with bills of both male and female birds changing throughout the season.

Section C

Dense populations of up to 30,000 nests per hectare demonstrate the communal breeding tendencies of the red-billed quelea. Throughout the hills and grasslands of Africa, male birds build their nests at the beginning of the rainy season, which varies by region. The birds construct their “woven” nests over a period of 2-3 days by using thorn trees, reeds and other plants. Once their nests are complete, male birds will display their plumage to female birds in the colony. Female birds then lay up to five eggs, which must incubate over a period of another 10-12 days. Finally, after quelea chicks hatch, they typically leave the nest within the next eleven days.

Section D

When in search of food and areas to forage, colonies of red-billed quelea can travel vast distances in the air. After they find a place to feed, they will cooperate as an enormous flock, causing a particular area to suddenly swell with huge numbers of birds. As they feed, birds in the back of the flock will move forward to the front, creating a rolling formation. The birds commonly eat seeds, grass, and even small insects, and they may even resort to consuming human grain crops. This has led to their reputation as pests by farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In agricultural regions, large influxes of feeding birds often leads to difficulties for farmers and even economic damages.

Section E

Entire crops can be destroyed by millions of weaver birds pouring into an area, with some estimates suggesting damages of up to $80 million annually due to the hungry birds. Food shortages leading to famine have occurred in some extreme scenarios when weaver birds infest an area, requiring food aid or imports to make up for the resulting shortages.

Section F

Although the behavior of red-billed quelea birds has sometimes proven destructive to the supply of food in an area, it is possible that the bird may, in turn, aid in biodiversity. This is partly due to their vast population; the numerous birds can provide a constant source of food for mammals, reptiles, and birds of prey, as well as humans, who eat them in kebabs and stews. On the other hand, the populations of other small bird species can be pushed out of an area when a hungry colony of quelea decides to land there.  

Section G

However, the birds continue to have negative environmental effects on particular areas, with watering holes becoming dirty, and trees being damaged due to their activity. In response to the potential for harm which high populations of the quelea birds carries, humans have undertaken measures to control their numbers. Even so, the 180 million birds killed by humans at this point has not affected their overall population, which remains relatively healthy and intact. The birds persist in damaging crops, and negatively impacting both humans and animals in regions across their home across the continent of Africa.  

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Wild Weaving Birds

Section A

Of all bird species in the world, the most abundant type appears to be the red-billed quelea, a species which lives only on the African continent. According to biologists and ornithologists, the number of red-billed quelea sits at about around 10 billion, with 1.5 billion breeding pairs, though calculating an accurate number for their population is a challenge due to the vast number of birds. Living in colonies in numbers from the tens of thousands all the way to the millions of pairs, huge nomadic groups of red-billed quelea in flight may spend up to five hours passing an area overhead.

Section B

As a reference to the way it builds its nest, the red-billed quelea is sometimes known as the “weaver bird.” Adult birds grow to about 12 cm in length with a weight of 15-20 grams, making these small birds roughly the size of a finch. Changes in the seasons affect both males and females, who may appear differently throughout the year. During breeding periods, male birds’ plumage is termed “polymorphic,” meaning that the colors or markings on individual birds’ feathers will differ, as combinations of pink, purple, black, white, and yellow may mark the heads and necks of male birds. Meanwhile, male breast and crowns may appear in shades of yellow to bright red, with facial markings of white and black masks. Outside of the breeding season, male and female birds appear similarly, with bills of both male and female birds changing throughout the season.

Section C

Dense populations of up to 30,000 nests per hectare demonstrate the communal breeding tendencies of the red-billed quelea. Throughout the hills and grasslands of Africa, male birds build their nests at the beginning of the rainy season, which varies by region. The birds construct their “woven” nests over a period of 2-3 days by using thorn trees, reeds and other plants. Once their nests are complete, male birds will display their plumage to female birds in the colony. Female birds then lay up to five eggs, which must incubate over a period of another 10-12 days. Finally, after quelea chicks hatch, they typically leave the nest within the next eleven days.

Section D

When in search of food and areas to forage, colonies of red-billed quelea can travel vast distances in the air. After they find a place to feed, they will cooperate as an enormous flock, causing a particular area to suddenly swell with huge numbers of birds. As they feed, birds in the back of the flock will move forward to the front, creating a rolling formation. The birds commonly eat seeds, grass, and even small insects, and they may even resort to consuming human grain crops. This has led to their reputation as pests by farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In agricultural regions, large influxes of feeding birds often leads to difficulties for farmers and even economic damages.

Section E

Entire crops can be destroyed by millions of weaver birds pouring into an area, with some estimates suggesting damages of up to $80 million annually due to the hungry birds. Food shortages leading to famine have occurred in some extreme scenarios when weaver birds infest an area, requiring food aid or imports to make up for the resulting shortages.

Section F

Although the behavior of red-billed quelea birds has sometimes proven destructive to the supply of food in an area, it is possible that the bird may, in turn, aid in biodiversity. This is partly due to their vast population; the numerous birds can provide a constant source of food for mammals, reptiles, and birds of prey, as well as humans, who eat them in kebabs and stews. On the other hand, the populations of other small bird species can be pushed out of an area when a hungry colony of quelea decides to land there.  

Section G

However, the birds continue to have negative environmental effects on particular areas, with watering holes becoming dirty, and trees being damaged due to their activity. In response to the potential for harm which high populations of the quelea birds carries, humans have undertaken measures to control their numbers. Even so, the 180 million birds killed by humans at this point has not affected their overall population, which remains relatively healthy and intact. The birds persist in damaging crops, and negatively impacting both humans and animals in regions across their home across the continent of Africa.  

 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
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