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
Asian Golden Weaver

Accepted: 15082
(Uploaded: 15083)

Total nests counted: 7958764

Latest weaver reference: PAPER: Evaporative cooling in Sociable Weavers

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

Weaver Wednesday [131] - Discovery [14]: Asian Golden Weaver

2014-12-17 (606)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus

Asian Golden Weaver
Asian Golden Weaver,
figure from Sparrman 1788
Asian Golden Weaver
Sparrman, author
of the Asian Golden Weaver,
figure from wikipedia
Asian Golden Weaver map
Asian Golden Weaver distribution,
type locality circled


The Asian Golden Weaver was formally named by Anders Erikson Sparrman, a Swedish naturalist. Although Sparrman sailed around the world with James Cook, starting from Cape Town, on Cook's second expedition to the Pacific (1772-1775), they did not visit islands as far north as Sumatra. After the voyage Sparrman returned to Cape Town in July 1775 and practiced medicine. In 1776 he returned to Sweden and published a Catalogue of the Museum Carlsonianum (1786-89), in which he described many of the specimens he had collected in South Africa and the South Pacific, some of which were new to science. He wrote a Latin description of the Asian Golden Weaver.

Sparrman described and painted the Asian Golden Weaver, and listed the collector as Claes Fredrik Hornstedt, a Swedish naturalist.

Hornstedt visited Batavia [=Jakarta] in Java from July 1783 to July 1784. He returned to Sweden with a large collection of natural history objects. In Sweden he replaced Sparrman as curator of the museum of the Royal Academy of Sciences (KVA), Stockholm, in 1787-88 (Rookmaaker 1989). Rookmaaker suggested that Hornstedt did not visit Sumatra, but received specimens from local collectors, even though he presents no evidence of this and Sumatra is relatively close to the adjacent island of Java.

Scientific citation

Loxia hypoxantha Sparrman 1788 Mus. Carls., fasc., 3, p.71 Sumatra.

Meaning of names

hypoxanthus (Greek) = hupo-, beneath; xanthos, golden or yellow [ie underparts golden].

Alternate names



Claes Fredrik Hornstedt.

Date collected

1783-84, when Hornstedt lived in Java.

Locality collected


Type specimens

No type specimens known to survive, but the painting of Sparrman serves as a type.

PAPER: Evaporative cooling in Sociable Weavers

2014-12-15 (605)
Gerson AR, Smith EK, Smit B, McKechnie AE, Wolf BO. 2014. The impact of humidity on evaporative cooling in small desert birds exposed to high air temperatures. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 87(6):782-795.

Sociable Weavers drinking
Abstract. Environmental temperatures that exceed body temperature (Tb) force endothermic animals to rely solely on evaporative cooling to dissipate heat. However, evaporative heat dissipation can be drastically reduced by environmental humidity, imposing a thermoregulatory challenge. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of humidity on the thermoregulation of desert birds and to compare the sensitivity of cutaneous and respiratory evaporation to reduced vapor density gradients. Rates of evaporative water loss, metabolic rate, and Tb were measured in birds exposed to humidities ranging from ~2 to 30 g H2O m-3 (0%-100% relative humidity at 30C) at air temperatures between 44 and 56C. In sociable weavers, a species that dissipates heat primarily through panting, rates of evaporative water loss were inhibited by as much as 36% by high humidity at 48C, and these birds showed a high degree of hyperthermia. At lower temperatures (40-44C), evaporative water loss was largely unaffected by humidity in this species. In Namaqua doves, which primarily use cutaneous evaporation, increasing humidity reduced rates of evaporative water loss, but overall rates of water loss were lower than those observed in sociable weavers. Our data suggest that cutaneous evaporation is more efficient than panting, requiring less water to maintain Tb at a given temperature, but panting appears less sensitive to humidity over the air temperature range investigated here.

This study was conducted at Leeupan farm, Northern Cape, South Africa, during February 2013.

The Sociable Weaver relies mainly on panting for evaporative cooling, resulting in very high rates of evaporative water loss at high temperatures. This would result in rapid dehydration in the absence of access to free water. This suggests that it would have difficulty surviving during long periods of hot, humid weather, eg during a heat wave in the summer rainy season, especially if drinking water is not available.

For a species account Sociable Weaver see species text.

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weaver colonies at the CSIR, 5 Dec 2014

2014-12-11 (604)
Weaver colonies at the CSIR (north campus)

On 6 December the ADU held its 4th Citizen Science Day for 2014, meeting at the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria.

This event gave me the opportunity to arrive a day earlier and survey the weaver colonies at the CSIR. In just under 5 hours of walking back and forth over the north part of the campus, 61 colonies were found of 3 species.

Number of colonies by species:
47 Southern Masked Weaver
12 Thick-billed Weaver
2 Southern Red Bishop

The Southern Masked Weaver nests were mostly in trees, including fever trees, other acacia trees, and other trees or bushes. Single colonies were found in a jacaranda, mulberry, pin oak, and a pine tree, with a few colonies in London plane trees. No nests were in reeds.

Two old nests of the Southern Red Bishop were found in the reeds at the dam. Several males in breeding plumage were seen.

The Thick-billed Weaver has increased in number of nest sites, compared to nearly 20 years ago. Most nests were around the dam and also at the wetland. The constructed wetland had one pond with water, while the other ponds were dry at the time of the survey (unlike nearly 20 years ago, when they were all full). Interestingly a few nests were in trees. Two old nests were far from water, and one of the nests was an old breeding nest.

Weaver Wednesday [130] - Discovery [13]: Nelicourvi Weaver

2014-12-10 (603)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Nelicourvi Weaver Ploceus nelicourvi

Nelicourvi Weaver
Nelicourvi Weaver,
figure from Sonnerat 1782
Nelicourvi Weaver
Sonnerat, collector
of the Nelicourvi Weaver,
figure from wikipedia
Nelicourvi Weaver map
Nelicourvi Weaver distribution,
type locality circled


The Nelicourvi Weaver was formally named by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, a Tyrolean naturalist, in 1786. Scopoli gave a scientific name and description of the Nelicourvi Weaver in Latin, based on the publication of Pierre Sonnerat.

Sonnerat made several voyages to southeast Asia, visiting the eastern coast of Madagascar in 1772. He visited Fort Dauphin near the south, but probably also visited other ports along the coast. He also observed the nests of the Nelicourvi Weaver, noting the long entrance tube and that several could be found in 1 site. Sonnerat published his travel diary in 1776.

Sonnerat provided a French name (Le Nelicourvi de Madagascar, the finch of Madagascar) while Scopoli, who had been corresponding with Carl Linnaeus, provided a binomial name and thus is credited as author of the Nelicourvi Weaver.

Scientific citation

Parvus nelicourvi Scopoli 1786 Del. Flor. Faun. Insurb., fasc. 2, p.96 Madagascar, ex Sonnerat, pl. 112.

Meaning of names

parvus (Latin) = small, little.

nelicourvi = doubtless from the Tamil (Sri Lanka) name nellukuruvi for a finch or waxbill, the Madagascan Nelicourvi Weaver thought to have come from Indomalaya.

Alternate names



Pierre Sonnerat.

Date collected

1770, when Sonnerat visited Madagascar.

Locality collected

East coast of Madagascar, possibly Fort Dauphin.

Type specimens

No type specimens known to survive, but the painting of Sonnerat serves as a type.

PAPER: Range extension of Village Weaver

2014-12-08 (602)
Demey R (compiler). 2014. Recent reports. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 21(2):239-252.

Village Weaver range in Sudan

Several flocks of Village Weavers were seen along Nile at Karima, in Sudan, on 19-20 April 2014 by Tom Jenner (purple marker). This is a range extension northwards by nearly 400km from Khartoum, from where there are many breeding records (red markers). There are records of Village Weaver in Egypt, even further north of its normal range (see news).

For a species account and map of the Village Weaver see species text.

Map key:
purple marker - new range record
red markers - breeding records in Khartoum
yellow and white marker - previous range record in Egypt
yellow polygons - known range of the Village Weaver

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items
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