The weaver bird family

There are 117 living species in the weaver bird family (Ploceidae), excluding the sparrows of genus Passer, see species list here. Read more about the family here.

Latest Weaver Wednesday
Madagascar Fody

Accepted: 14525
(Uploaded: 14525)

Total nests counted: 7954148

Latest weaver reference: PAPER: Weavers at Lake Kenyatta

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
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Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [124] - Discovery [7]: Madagascar Fody

2014-10-29 (588)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Madagascar Fody Foudia madagascariensis

Madagascar Fody
Madagascar Fody,
figure by Flacourt 1658
Madagascar Fody
Madagascar Fody,
figure from Brisson
Madagascar Fody map
Madagascar Fody distribution,
type locality circled


Linnaeus (1766) briefly descriped the Madagascar Fody, based on the longer description in Brisson 1760. Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a French zoologist, gave the names "Le Cardinal de Madagascar" (French) and Cardinalis madagascariensis (Latin). Brisson's painting is very poor, but his text is extensive, so there is no doubt about the species he was referring to.

Brisson noted that the Madagascar Fody originated from Madagascar, from where they were sent to RAF de Reaumur by Pierre Poivre, the administrator of Mauritius and Reunion. Poivre travelled to Madagascar in 1756 (Stresemann 1952) where he collected many bird specimens for de Reaumur.

The Madagascar Fody was first illustrated by Etienne de Flacourt, French governor of Madagascar. He wrote a book of the natural history, culture and history of southern Madagascar in 1658, including line drawings of some of the fauna and flora. He called the fody "Foulimene", and this is probably the first illustration (although a poor one) of any weaver species to appear in print.

Flacourt wrote about the fody as being captured by the locals because it was a pest on the rice crops, and he thought them to be beautiful due to their scarlet plumage.

Scientific citation

Loxia madagascariensis Linnaeus 1766 Syst. Nat., ed. 12, 1, p.300 Madagascar

Meaning of names

madagascariensis After the island of Madagascar.

Alternate names

Madagascan Fody, Madagascan Red Fody, Red Fody


Pierre Poivre.

Date collected

In 1756 when Poivre visited Madagascar.

Locality collected


Type specimens

Poivre's type specimens did not survive (Stresemann 1952), but the painting of Brisson serves as a type.

PAPER: Weavers at Lake Kenyatta

2014-10-27 (587)
Ogoma M, Ndanganga PK, Obwoyere G 2014 The birds of Lake Kenyatta, Kenya: a preliminary survey. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 21(2):181-186 .

Abstract. The results of the first ornithological survey of Lake Kenyatta, a freshwater lake in Lamu County on the northern Kenyan coast, are presented. A total of 138 bird species belonging to 50 families were recorded. Of these, five species are of global conservation concern, four are regionally threatened, nine are restricted to the East Africa coastal biome and 20% are migratory. The lake and its surroundings are currently threatened by hippopotamus-fishermen conflicts, encroachment for agriculture and settlement, tree cutting, overfishing, invasive aquatic weeds and overgrazing. We recommend further ornithological studies and promotion of ecotourism and capacity building for communities in order for them to manage this important resource sustainably.

Golden Palm Weaver,
most common weaver at Lake Kenyatta

The authors found 6 weaver species at Lake Kenyatta, between 25 July - 8 August 2011. These were classified as resident, other than the migrant Red-billed Quelea. The Golden Palm Weaver was listed as the 7th most common bird species in this study.

Weavers recorded at Lake Kenyatta (Lake Mukunganya in google maps):

Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri
Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Zanzibar Bishop Euplectes nigroventris

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weavers breeding in Eucalypts

2014-10-23 (586)
PHOWN 2020
Slender-billed Weaver nest in Eucalypt
PHOWN 11958
Dark-backed Weaver nest in Eucalypt

Some weavers often nest in exotic vegetation, especially tall trees in man-modified habitits. This includes eucalypt trees (Eucalptus), which are otherwise not frequented by many indigenous birds. Smith 1974 (The utilization of gum trees by birds in Africa, Ibis 116:155-164) compiled a list of birds, including the weavers below. Additionally records are also listed.

For the Southern Masked Weaver and Cape Weaver there are particularly many records. For several species, there are PHOWN records, showing nesting in Eucalypts.

Weavers that have been recorded as breeding in Eucalyptus trees (from Smith 1974):
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps
Ruppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Speke's Weaver Ploceus spekei
White-browed Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali

Weavers that have been recorded as breeding in Eucalyptus trees (outside Africa):
Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra

Weavers that have been recorded as breeding in Eucalyptus trees (single or few records):
Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
Sociable Weaver Philetairus socius
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis
Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Slender-billed Weaver Ploceus pelzelni

Weaver Wednesday [123] - Discovery [6]: Cape Weaver

2014-10-22 (585)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis

Cape Weaver
Cape Weaver male
figure by Martinet (in Daubenton 1783)
Brisson, first described
the Cape Weaver in great detail,
figure from wikipedia
phown 4953
Cape Weaver colony,
figure painted by Lady Anne Barnard
Cape Weaver map
Cape Weaver distribution,
type locality circled


After Linnaeus published his 10th edition of Systema Naturae, he came across many more species. His 12th edition (Linnaeus 1766) contains several more weavers, the first being the Cape Weaver. Linnaeus gave a very short description, based on the longer description in Brisson 1760.

Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a French zoologist, wrote his book on birds in several volumes, each page having 2 columns (one in French and one in Latin). Brisson gave the names "Le Carouge du Cap de Bonne Esperance" (French, for Oriole of the the Cape of Good Hope) and Xanthornus Capitis Bonae Spei (Latin). Many of Brisson's Latin names for birds were given before Linnaeus, but they were not constructed as binomial names, and thus do not qualify as scientific names.

Brisson noted that the Cape Weaver originated from the Cape of Good Hope. This could be from anywhere in the Cape but most likely the Cape Weaver was taken from the Cape Peninsula. The Cape Weaver specimen was housed in the Aubrey abbey in Paris.

The Cape Weaver was first illustrated by Francois-Nicolas Martinet, under the supervision of Edme-Louis Daubenton, a French naturalist, in 1783. Martinet engraved and painted over 1000 colour plates for the Histoire naturelle (1749-89), providing the largest collection of bird paintings in the world at the time. Troupiale olive de Cayenne

The earliest written record referring to an African weaver that is identifiable, is a record of a Cape Weaver from 1630. Friar Francisco dos Santos was a Portuguese priest on the ship San Gonzales which became stranded in Formosa Bay (=Plettenberg Bay, South Africa) in June 1630. While stranded on land for 9 months, Santos wrote about the fauna and flora, the earliest record for the region. He described hanging weaver nests and the only known Ploceus weaver in Plet at that time was the Cape Weaver. Read the fascinating story here.

Two other interesting early records are paintings of weaver nests by Lady Anne Barnard from 1797 in Stellenbosch (PHOWN 4953) and 1798 a farm dam near Porterville (PHOWN 4954). Again, these can only belong to the Cape Weaver, since the Southern Masked Weaver did not occur in the Western Cape before 1900.

Scientific citation

Oriolus capensis Linnaeus 1766 Syst. Nat. 12th ed. I, p.163 Cape of Good Hope

Meaning of names

capensis After the Cape of Good Hope (Modern Latin: Caput Bonae Spei; Portuguese: Cabo de Boa Esperanca), South Africa.

Alternate names

Olive Weaver, Cape Golden Weaver, Eastern Cape Weaver Bird, Golden-crowned Weaver bird, Yellow green Weaver-Bird



Date collected

Before 1760, when the Cape Weaver was first described.

Locality collected

Cap. b. spei = Cape of Good Hope (probably the Cape Peninsula)

Type specimens

No type specimens known to survive, but the painting of Martinet may serve as a type, although it may or may not be the same individual specimen as described by Brisson.

PAPER: Frog nest in weaver nest

2014-10-20 (584)
Kielgast J, Lotters S. 2009. Forest weaverbird nests utilized by foam-nest frogs (Rhacophoridae: Chiromantis) in Central Africa. Salamandra 45(3):170-171.

African foam-nest tree frog

Abstract. We report that the Afrotropical anuran Chiromantis rufescens may use empty forest weaver bird nests above water for deposition of foam-nests with eggs. Our observation was made in January 2008 at a temporary pond in primary rainforest of Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. To the best of our knowledge this is the first ever report of utilization of bird nests by amphibians. We expect that bird nests with their tube-like entrance were difficult to access for frogs and that the choice of this oviposition site was non-random. If so, it may be a response to strong egg predation, e.g. through primates, as known in C. rufescens.

The authors found two cases where African foam-nest tree frogs used the deserted nests of the Blue-billed Malimbe to build their foam-nest. This frog usually builds its nest on branches overhanging water. Read more about the Blue-billed Malimbe.

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