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
White-winged Widowbird

PHOWN:
Accepted: 28235
(Uploaded: 28235)

Total nests counted: 7995255

Latest weaver reference: PAPER (ecology): Weavers and other birds in Aloe patches

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

Weaver Wednesday [167] - Discovery [50]: White-winged Widowbird

2015-08-26 (664)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus

White-winged Widowbird
White-winged Widowbird,
figure from Cassin 1849
White-winged Widowbird
White-winged Widowbird,
figure from Hartlaub 1863
White-winged Widowbird map
White-winged Widowbird
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The White-winged Widowbird was formally described by John Cassin, an American ornithologist.

The White-winged Widowbird was collected by Jules Pierre Verreaux, a French botanist and ornithologist. Jules and his brothers were professional collectors of and traders in natural history specimens, who worked in South Africa and other parts of the world. The White-winged Widowbird specimens are labelled as Port Natal (Durban) and Cap. de B. Esp. (the Cape - Jules Verreaux worked at the South African Museum for several years, but the species would have been collected north of the Cape). Unfortunately, the Verreaux brothers did not usually keep good records on localities and dates of where specimens were collected. Although the precise collection locality is not certain, Durban is adequate as a type locality for the White-winged Widowbird.

White-winged Widowbird specimens were sent to the Verreaux business in Paris where Edward Wilson obtained 3 of the widow specimens to take to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, formerly the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP), the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the New World. Cassin was curator of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and he described many species of bird as they arrived at the museum.

The first illustration of a White-winged Widowbird is a colour painting published by Cassin 1849. The second illustration was published by Hartlaub 1863, of the subspecies eques that was collected by John Hanning Speke.

Scientific citation

Vidua albonotata Cassin 1848 Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad., p65 Port Natal = Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Meaning of names

albonotata/albonotatus - Latin albus, white; notatus, marked (notare, to mark).

First English name

The white-shouldered Widow (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Angola White-winged Whydah, Cinnamon-shouldered Widowbird, East African White-winged Whydah, The white-shouldered Widow, White-fronted Widow-Bird, White-winged Whydah.

Collector

Jules Verreaux.

Date collected

Long before 1848, but date unknown.

Locality collected

Port Natal = Durban.

Type specimens

ANSP 14224, ANSP 14225 and ANSP 14226 in Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Weaver Wednesday [166] - Discovery [49]: Red-headed Quelea

2015-08-19 (663)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops

Red-headed Quelea
Red-headed Quelea,
figure from Hartlaub 1850
Red-headed Quelea
Red-headed Quelea,
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Red-headed Quelea map
Red-headed Quelea
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Red-headed Quelea was formally described by Karel Johan Gustav Hartlaub, a German physician and ornithologist.

Carl Weiss, a German collector, was the first person to obtain specimens of the Red-headed Quelea (together with other bird specimens, including the Sao Tome Weaver) for The Hamburg Museum. He travelled from 1847-1850 on the ship Adolphus to Sao Tome then to the coast of Ghana, to Principe and back to Sao Tome again. He probably collected the Red-headed Quelea soon after arriving on the island, and sent back many bird specimens which Hartlaub was able to describe in 1848 and later.

The first illustration of a Red-headed Quelea is a colour painting published by Hartlaub in 1850. The second illustration was published by Reichenbach 1863.

Scientific citation

Ploceus erythrops Hartlaub 1848 Rev. Zool. 1848 p.109 Sao Tome.

Meaning of names

erythrops - Greek. Eruthros, red; ops, the eye, the face; refers to the red or rufous face.

First English name

The red-headed Dioch (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Pokerhead, Red-headed Dioch, Red-headed Weaver.

Collector

Carl Weiss.

Date collected

1847.

Locality collected

Sao Tome Island.

Type specimens

One type specimen is in the Zoological Museum at the University of Hamburg, and specimen UMB - 5281 is in Ubersee Museum Bremen.

PAPER (ecology): Weavers and other birds in Aloe patches

2015-08-13 (662)
Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox, figure from wikipedia
Craig AJFK, Hulley PE, Galpin MP, Kuiper T, Smith DL, Wolmarans MHL. 2015. Winter's boon: ringing birds at Eastern Cape Aloe patches. Afring News 44: 1-8.

Summary. The latest Afring News paper is about ringing birds in Aloe patches. Two important conclusions were:

1. ringing at the aloe patches has provided some evidence that individual sunbirds and weavers do return to the same site in subsequent years, and are probably not present during the period when the aloes are not in flower.

2. Aloe ferox is bird pollinated, and it is the occasional nectarivores such as the weavers which are the important pollinators - weavers carry heavy pollen loads, but the Malachite Sunbirds with their longer bills can take nectar without picking up any significant amounts of pollen, and are effectively “nectar robbers” for this plant.

Download this (and any previous) Afring News paper here.


Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weaver Wednesday [165] - Discovery [48]: Sao Tome Weaver

2015-08-12 (661)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Sao Tome Weaver Ploceus sanctithomae

Sao Tome Weaver
Sao Tome Weaver,
figure from Hartlaub 1850
Sao Tome Weaver
Sao Tome Weaver,
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Sao Tome Weaver map
Sao Tome Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Sao Tome Weaver was formally described by Karel Johan Gustav Hartlaub, a German physician and ornithologist.

Carl Weiss, a German collector, was the first person to obtain specimens of the Sao Tome Weaver for The Hamburg Museum. He travelled from 1847-1850 on the ship Adolphus to Sao Tome then to the coast of Ghana, to Principe and back to Sao Tome again. He probably collected the Sao Tome Weaver soon after arriving on the island, and sent back many bird specimens which Hartlaub was able to describe in 1848 and later.

The first illustration of a Sao Tome Weaver is a colour painting published by Hartlaub in 1850. The second illustration was published by Reichenbach 1863.

Scientific citation

Sycobius st.-thomae Hartlaub 1848 Rev. Zool. 1848 p.109 Sao Tome.

Meaning of names

sanctithomae - Named after the island of Sao Thome (Sao Tome) in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa, discovered by Portuguese explorers in 1471 and named for St Thomas, the patron saint of Portugal.

First English name

The St. Thomas Coucou-Weawer (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

St. Thomas Island Weaver.

Collector

Carl Weiss.

Date collected

1847.

Locality collected

Sao Tome Island.

Type specimens

The type specimen is in the Zoological Museum at the University of Hamburg.

Weaver Wednesday [164] - Discovery [47]: White-headed Buffalo-Weaver

2015-08-05 (660)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Ruppell 1845
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Gray 1849
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver map
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The White-headed Buffalo-Weaver was formally named by Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell, a German naturalist and explorer, especially in north-east Africa.

Rüppell obtained specimens of the White-headed Buffalo-Weaver from 2 sources. Martin Bretzka was a German hunter who collected birds for Rüppell. After earlier travels together, Rüppell sent Bretzka back to Ethiopia in 1835 and Bretzka reached Shoa in 1837, where he presumably collected the first White-headed Buffalo-Weaver specimens. Rüppell probably only received these specimens in 1841, and he labelled them as Textor leucocephalus. Bretzka collected at least 2 specimens, which are now in the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt.

Before describing this species, Rüppell visited the museum of the East India Company in London in 1843, where he saw some more White-headed Buffalo-Weaver specimens. These had been collected by Major Sir William Cornwallis Harris, an English military engineer, artist and hunter. Harris led a British diplomatic mission (1841 to 1843) from Bombay to Sahle Selassie, Negus of Shewa. Harris collected at least 4 specimens of the White-headed Buffalo-Weaver. Harris wrote about his travels in 3 volumes (The highlands of Aethiopia) in which he makes occasional reference to birds, but does not appear to have written about the White-headed Buffalo-Weaver. Harris sent his White-headed Buffalo-Weaver specimens to the East India Company Museum where Thomas Horsfield, curator of the East India Company Museum in London, named the species Textor dinemelli. Horsfield named the species after an unknown collector, Dinemelli, but did not describe the species. The specimens are now in the British Museum.

When Rüppell published his description, he chose Horsfield's name rather than his own more descriptive name (leucocephalus = white headed).

The first illustration of a White-headed Buffalo-Weaver is a colour painting by Joseph Wolf of a specimen collected by Bretzka, published in the book on north-eastern African birds by Rüppell. The second illustration is by William Mitchell, published in the book by Gray on bird genera, and based on the specimens collected by Harris.

Scientific citation

Textor dinemelli Ruppell 1845 Syst. Uebers, p.72, pl. 30 Shoa, central Abyssinia.

Meaning of names

dinemelli - Named after Dinemelli (fl. 1840) a collector in Ethiopia about whom nothing is known.

First English name

The white-headed Dinemellia (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Boehm's Buffalo Weaver, Dinemelli's (Buffalo) Weaver, Ruspoli's White-headed Buffalo-Weaver, Unyamwesi White-headed Buffalo-Weaver.

Collector

Martin Bretzka and Major WC Harris.

Date collected

1837 (Bretzka) and 1841-43 (Harris).

Locality collected

Shoa = Shewa, central Ethiopia.

Type specimens

Two specimens are in the Senckenberg Museum (Bretzka) and 4 in the British Museum (Harris).
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