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
Bar-winged Weaver

PHOWN:
Accepted: 19364
(Uploaded: 19364)

Total nests counted: 8007900

Latest weaver reference: PAPER (breeding): Red-billed Quelea breeding record

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
11 Feb 1925, Phormoplectes insignis okuensis , Brown-capped Weaver

Latest weaver news

Nest Record Cards and PHOWN

2016-02-12 (699)
phown 18780
Nest Record Card for Scaly-feathered Finch, one of the earliest weaver cards
There are 10133 breeding records of weavers in the southern African Nest Record Cards. The data on these cards was added to PHOWN but has now been moved to a separate database which can also show the contents of the nests (PHOWN is part of the ADU Virtual Museum database which was designed for deistribution records, rather than breeding records).

The weaver NRC data is still shown on the weaver species summaries. The PHOWN web now shows the total records in the PHOWN database as 19360 (including 577 records without photos), rather than 29493 (which also included the NRCs).

Most, but not all, of the weaver NRCs have been scanned. One of the earliest weaver cards is for a Scaly-feathered Finch from 1886 (added restrospectively).

First PHOWN record for Yellow-mantled Widowbird

2016-02-11 (698)
phown 18780
Yellow-mantled Widowbird, half-built nest
Richard de Cauwer has submitted the first PHOWN record for Yellow-mantled Widowbird. He found a half-built nest in wet grassland in Katanga, DRC. A male and female were nearby, the female with nest material. The breeding period for this species in DRC is unknown, but fits with the season in nearby Zambia of Dec-March. Usually the nest framework is woven by the male, and the female continues to add dry grass lining during incubation. In Richard's record, the female seems to be adding nest lining before egg laying. This species is polygynous, with up to five females per male, although some males will have 1 female or even none at times. Click on the photo to see full details. Richard has also sent many other interesting PHOWN records from DRC!

Bishops and widowbirds generally hide their nests in grass, so they are harder to find than the typical Ploceus nests, with the exception of the Southern Red Bishop as there nests are built in reeds and are easy to find. This is reflected in the current number of PHOWN records in the table below. Five species do not have records yet, and the others still need many more records!

VM Species Latin n
971 Hartlaub's Marsh Widowbird Euplectes hartlaubi 0
3746 Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus 0
3748 Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus 0
3752 Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni 0
3756 Montane Marsh Widowbird Euplectes psammocromius 0
809 Black-winged Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus 1
815 Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura 1
818 Long-tailed Widowbird Euplectes progne 1
1179 Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus 1
812 Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer 2
813 Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens 2
3750 Black Bishop Euplectes gierowii 2
814 White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus 3
810 Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis 4
3754 Zanzibar Bishop Euplectes nigroventris 4
816 Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris 5
808 Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix 239

Weaver Wednesday [191] - Discovery [74]: Bar-winged Weaver

2016-02-10 (697)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Bar-winged Weaver Ploceus angolensis

Bar-winged Weaver
Bar-winged Weaver
figure from Shelley (1887)
Bar-winged Weaver
Bar-winged Weaver, figure
from Mclachlan & Liversidge (1957)
Bar-winged Weaver map
Bar-winged Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Bar-winged Weaver was formally described by Jose Vicente Barbosa du Bocage, a Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was curator of the Lisbon Museum, and described several other weavers.

The Bar-winged Weaver was collected by Jose Alberto de Oliveira Anchieta, a Portuguese explorer and naturalist, who collected a large number of birds in Angola. In 1867 the Portuguese government hired Anchieta as a naturalist but probably also as a secret agent and informer in the Caconda region of Angola. Anchieta lived in Caconda, explored the area and sent many specimens and letters to his scientific correspondents in Lisbon. Anchieta discovered the Bar-winged Weaver near Caconda, and sent a specimen to the Lisbon Museum.

The first illustration of the Bar-winged Weaver was published in Shelley (1887). The second illustration was published decades later, by Mclachlan & Liversidge (1957).

Scientific citation

Sharpia angolensis Bocage 1878 Jorn. Sci. Math. Phys. Nat. Lisboa, 6, p.258 Caconda, Angola.

Meaning of names

angolensis, After Angola (Mbundu native name ngola, title of the rulers of the kingdom of Ndongo).

First English name

Sharpe's Weaver Bird (Layard 1884).

Alternate names

Angola Bar-winged Weaver.

Collector

Jose de Anchieta.

Date collected

Before 1878.

Locality collected

Caconda, Angola.

Type specimens

The type specimen was in the Museum of Lisbon, before a fire destroyed the museum.

Weaver Wednesday [190] - Discovery [73]: Fire-fronted Bishop

2016-02-03 (696)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus

Fire-fronted Bishop
Fire-fronted Bishop male
figure from Fischer (1879)
Fire-fronted Bishop
Fire-fronted Bishop male
figure from Delacour (1933)
Fire-fronted Bishop map
Fire-fronted Bishop
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Fire-fronted Bishop was formally described by Anton Reichenow, a German ornithologist and herpetologist. He was curator of the Humboldt Museum in Berlin and described many birds, as well as some frogs and lizards. The Fire-fronted Bishop was collected by Gustav A Fischer, a German African explorer. In 1876 he accompanied Clemens Denhardt's expedition to Zanzibar, where he settled as a physician. Fischer collected some birds in Zanzibar and then undertook a trip along the Kenyan coast where he collected a male Fire-fronted Bishop.

The first illustration of the Fire-fronted Bishop was published in Fischer (1879). The second illustration was published much later, by Delacour (1933), also of a male. The first female was illustrated in Mackworth (1955).

Scientific citation

Euplectes diadematus Fischer & Reichenow 1878 Orn. Centralbl., 3, p.88 Malindi, Kenya.

Meaning of names

diadematus, Latin: diadematus, diademed, adorned with a diadem.

First English name

Fire-fronted Bishop-bird (Shelley 1905).

Alternate names

None.

Collector

Gustav A Fischer.

Date collected

4 Sep 1877.

Locality collected

Malindi, Kenya.

Type specimens

A type specimen is in the Berlin Museum (ZMB_23367) and there are some other syntypes.

Weaver Wednesday [189] - Discovery [72]: Maxwell's Black Weaver

2016-01-27 (695)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Maxwell's Black Weaver Ploceus albinucha

Maxwell's Black Weaver
Maxwell's Black Weaver, albinucha
figure from Bannerman (1949)
Maxwell's Black Weaver
Maxwell's Black Weaver, maxwelli
figure from Bannerman (1949)
Maxwell's Black Weaver map
Maxwell's Black Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Maxwell's Black Weaver was formally described by Jose Vicente Barbosa du Bocage, a Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was curator of the Lisbon Museum.

Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English zoologist, obtained the Maxwell's Black Weaver specimen from Henry Whitely, a British dealer in bird skins living at 28 Wellington Street, Woolwich. His son, also Henry Whitely, travelled in Japan and South America to collect bird specimens. It is not known from whom Whitely (senior) obtained the Maxwell's Black Weaver specimen. Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett (2014) suggested that the specimen was from Ghana.

Sharpe sent a collection of birds (mostly from Quanza, Angola) to Bocage who was interested in Angolan specimens. The Maxwell's Black Weaver type was included in the collection (perhaps accidentally), but its label clearly stated "West Africa". Because of it being with the Angolan birds, many authors incorrectly gave the type locality for Maxwell's Black Weaver as Quanza in Angola but it should always have been listed as West Africa.

Unfortunately the type no longer exists, due to a fire in the Lisbon Museum in 1978.

The first illustrations of the Maxwell's Black Weaver were published in Bannerman (1949), the first in colour and of the nominate subspecies, and the second in black and white of another subspecies. Bartlett (1888) wrote a text on Maxwell's Black Weaver and referred to a plate for this species, but the plate seems to be missing from the book.

Scientific citation

Sycobius albinucha Bocage 1876 Jorn. Sci. Math. Phys. Nat. Lisboa, 5, p.247 West Africa.

Meaning of names

albinucha, Latin: albus, white; Med. Latin nucha, the nape (Arabic nukha, spinal marrow).

First English name

The White-naped Weaver (Bartlett 1888).

Alternate names

Black Weaver, Fernando Po Black Weaver, Maxwell's Weaver, White-naped Black Weaver, White-naped Weaver.

Collector

via Henry Whitely.

Date collected

Before 1876.

Locality collected

West Africa, possibly Ghana.

Type specimens

The type specimen was in the Museum of Lisbon, before a fire destroyed the museum.
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