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
Black-winged Bishop
Black-winged Bishop

Accepted: 13614
(Uploaded: 13614)

Total nests counted: 7946215

Latest weaver reference: PAPER: Survival rates of southern African birds

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

Weaver Wednesday [1]: Black-winged Bishop

2014-09-17 (570)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday - species discovery (species text)

Black-winged Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus

Black-winged Bishop
First pic of Black-winged Bishop,
from Swainson 1837
Black-winged Bishop map
Black-winged Bishop distribution,
type locality circled
Linnaeus, from wikipedia
Linnaeus, from wikipedia


Linnaeus thought this species came from India, or the [East] Indies ("in Indiis"), a common mistake in his day, as the ship bringing this specimen probably came from the far East but stopped at African ports along the way, where African specimens could have been added to the cargo. Gyldenstolpe (1924) first noticed the error, and restricted the type locality to Senegal as the type specimen matched other specimens from Senegal.

Linnaeus noted the source of the type specimen as "mus ad fr", ie. the Museum Adolphi Friderici, a collection maintained by the King of Sweden, Adolf Fredrik.

Swainson (1837) obtained described a specimen from Senegal as a new species (Crimson-crowned Weaver Euplectes flammiceps), but this was later discovered to be the same species as the Black-winged Bishop. Nevertheless, his painting is the first published illustration of this species, many decades after Linnaeus first described it.

Scientific citation

Loxia hordeacea Linnaeus 1758a Syst. Nat., ed. 10, p173 'in Indiis', errore = Senegal, vide Gyldenstolpe 1924.

Meaning of names

hordeaceus (Latin) - of barley; referring to its diet.

Alternate names

Fire-crowned Bishop


Unknown, but kept in the Museum Adolphi Friderici.

Date collected

Before 1754, since Linnaeus studied the collection from 1751-1754.

Locality collected

Unknown, type locality restricted to Senegal.

Type specimens

The type is in the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Naturhistoriska riksmuseet) in Stockholm. Modern photos of the type are at here.

New Weaver Wednesday series - Discovery

2014-09-16 (569)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday - Discovery

Black-winged Bishop
First pic of Black-winged Bishop,
from Swainson 1837
Over the last 117 weeks (2 and 1/4 years), the biology of every weaver species (family Ploceidae) was covered. The sequence was random, although first one species from each genus was chosen, and usually better known species were covered sooner.

Tomorrow a new series starts, where the history of each weaver species will be summarised. This will include a summary of the discovery and naming of the weaver species, followed by the following headers:

  • Scientific citation - the reference for the original description, with type locality
  • Meaning of scientific name
  • Alternate names
  • Collector
  • Date collected
  • Locality collected
  • Type specimens - where housed, if known.

As usual, the news item will be well illustrated, usually including the first published illustration of the species.

The sequence of species will be chronological, ie in the sequence that the weaver species were originally described. Linnaeus described 5 weavers in his monumental work on describing animal species in Systema Naturae, ed. 10 in 1758, and the first of the 5 weaver species listed is the Black-winged Bishop. Enjoy the series!

PAPER: Cape Sparrows using Cape Weaver nests

2014-09-15 (568)
Oschadleus HD, McCarthy A. 2014. Cape sparrows using weaver nests. African Journal of Ecology online.

In this paper the authors document 32 cases of Cape Sparrows using the nests of weavers, usually for breeding but for roosting in one example. The weaver nests belonged to Cape Weavers in 25 records, Southern Masked Weaver 5 times, and twice unidentified weaver nests. The preference for Cape Weaver nests was explained by the larger size of this weaver's nest. The majority of records were from the Western Cape, with 4 records from Lesotho, one from gauteng and 1 from the Northern Cape. The regional preference was explained by timing of breeding seasons. The Cape Weaver completes breeding earlier in the Western Cape than does the sparrow, allowing the sparrow to take over old weaver nests while it is still breeding.

This paper acknowledges funding from Project for the Enhancement of Research Capacity (PERC, UCT).

Cape Sparrow roosting in Cape Weaver nest
Cape Sparrow roosting in Cape Weaver nest
Cape Sparrow breeding in Cape Weaver nest
Cape Sparrow breeding in Cape Weaver nest

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weavers from A to Z (Aldabra Fody to Zanzibar Bishop)

2014-09-11 (567)
Aldabra Fody Zanzibar Bishop There are 117 living species of weavers, found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and some species in southern Asia and the Indian Ocean islands. You can now read a species text on the basic biology of every weaver species. Each species text has at least one illustration of the bird, and sometimes 2 or 3, and a distribution map. Many species texts also illustrate the nest. See the species list.

Photos: left - Aldabra Fody, right - Zanzibar Bishop

Weaver Wednesday [117]: Aldabra Fody

2010-09-10 (566)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday

The Aldabra Fody Foudia albadrana is a very localised fody. The male in breeding pluamge has a red head and breast, and yellowish belly (photo right, copyright Ross Wanless). The non-breeding male and the female are dull coloured, but there are no other weavers or fodies on Aldabra. The bill is long and heavy compared to other fodies.

The Aldabra Fody is restricted to Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean (see map below, based on Birds of the Malagasy region). It occurs on the main islands and on the small islets inside the lagoon. The population is estimated at 1000-3000 pairs.

Aldabra Fody  map

The Aldabra Fody inhabits all woody habitats, including scrub, mangroves, Casuarina woodland and coconut groves. At the settlement it is tame and enters the houses. It often occurs in flocks.

The Aldabra Fody is omnivorous, and eats insects, spiders, seeds (including Casuarina and grass seeds), nectar, fruit and flowers. Insects include beetles, cockroach adults and nymphs, adult damselflies, termites, earwigs, ants, grasshoppers, and flies. The large bill of the Aldabra Fody allows it to take larger insects than other fodies do.

The Aldabra Fody is monogamous and territorial. The male sings in his territory to defend it. The male builds the nest, although the female may help when it is near completed.

The nest is globular and has a side entrance, resembling the nest of other fodies, and the nest sometimes has a short porch. The nest is placed in trees (especially Coconut Palms) or shrubs, often high above the ground. Nests may sometimes be built in the palm thatch of buildings. Nest material includes tendrils, strips of palm fronds, dry grass, dead leaves, and other vegetation. Fine grasses are used to line the nest. Many nests are abandoned, probably if a male fails to attract a female. Males build up to 10 nests in a breeding season. Nest construction varies from 3 days to a few weeks.

The eggs (usually 3, but varies from 2-4 eggs) are pale blue. Incubation is by the female, and chicks are fed by both parents. Breeding success is low, and nest predators include rats and Pied Crows.

There are no PHOWN records for the Aldabra Fody (see PHOWN summary), and many are needed. Submit any weaver nest records to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.

PHOWN summary           Previous Wedn: Ibadan Malimbe           Full weaver species list
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