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
Forest Fody

PHOWN:
Accepted: 24897
(Uploaded: 24896)

Total nests counted: 8062332

Latest weaver links:
95 Cape Weaver on nectar flower
94 Longevity records of southern African weavers
93 Cape Weaver with praying mantis for chicks

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
26 Sep 1955, Ploceus spilonotus dilutescens , Village Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [223] - Discovery [106]: Forest Fody

2016-09-21 (743)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Forest Fody Foudia omissa

Forest Fody
Forest Fody, male
figure from Delacour (1932)
Forest Fody
Forest Fody, female (top) and male,
figure from Lavauden (1937)
Forest Fody map
Forest Fody
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Forest Fody was formally described by Walter Rothschild, a British banker, politician, and zoologist.

The collector of the Forest Fody is unknown.

Rothschild employed other people to collect birds and animals for him in remote and little-known parts of the world. This would have included the Forest Fody, which was collected in Madagascar on 21 Aug 1891 (date presumably based on a label). However, the name of the collector was not recorded. Two more males from 1891 were also included as types.

Rothschild also hired professional scientists to work with him to write up his resulting collections, e.g. Ernst Hartert for birds, from 1892 until his retirement at the age of 70 in 1930. But Rothschild wrote up the species description for the Forest Fody himself in 1912, several years after it had been collected. Presumably the specimen had been thought to be a moulting Madagascar Fody at first, as Rothschild named it "omissa", i.e. overlooked.

At one point Rothschild's collection included 300000 bird skins, 200000 birds' eggs, as well as thousands of specimens of mammals, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, and beetles. They formed the largest zoological collection ever amassed by a private individual. Rothschild opened his private museum in 1892. It housed one of the largest natural history collections in the world, and was open to the public. In 1932 he was forced to sell the vast majority of his bird collection to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) after being blackmailed by a former mistress.

Adolphe Boucard collected extensively in Mexico and Central America, concentrating on collecting hummingbirds. He sold scientific bird skins to Natural History museums and supplied the plume trade. In 1891 he moved to London and set up a taxidermist company Boucard, Pottier & Co. He facilitated the sale of 3 Forest Fody specimens from Rothschild to the AMNH.

The Forest Fody was first illustrated by Delacour (1932), showing a male, after visiting Madagascar. The next illustration to be published was by Lavauden (1937), showing both male and female.

Scientific citation

Foudia omissa Rothschild 1912a, Bull. Brit. Orn. Cl. 31 p.26, Tamatave, Madagascar.

Meaning of names

omissa, Latin: omissus, negligent, remiss (i.e. previously overlooked) (omittere, to let go).

First English name

Rothschild's Fody (Sclater 1930a).

Alternate names

Rothschild's Fody.

Collector

Unknown.

Date collected

21 Aug 1891 (holotype).

Locality collected

Tamatave, Madagascar.

Type specimens

Three types are in the American Museum of Natural History.

ADU Citizen Scientist Weekend, BLSA Centre Wakkerstroom, 17-18 Sept 2016

2016-09-20 (742)
The 23rd ADU Citizen Scientist Day was held at the BLSA Centre Wakkerstroom on 17 September 2016. On Friday afternoon, driving with Peter and Sandra Greaves, we surveyed the weaver nests along the R35 Bethal to Morgenzon, to Amersfoort and to Wakkerstroom. We found 7 colonies of 1 or 2 old nests on barbed wire fences and 4 colonies of 1-3 nests in trees. The fences provide new nesting sites for Southern Masked Weavers in grassland areas.

pics
Nest on fence, PHOWN 24250
pics
Habitat of same fence nest

On Saturday there was an early morning ringing demonstration for attendees. Rina Pretorius, Arjen van Zwieten, Sylva Francis (with Bradley Gibbons) and myself caught birds around the BLSA centre. The Cape Weaver males have much more orange on the head than those in Cape Town. One of the highlights was a Red-throated Wryneck.

pics
Cape Weaver male
pics
Red-throated Wryneck

There were about 50 people for the morning talks, and Brian Guerin, chair of the bird club, welcomed everyone. The speakers and talks were:

  • Peter Greaves - Go BIRPing
  • Peter Lawson - SABAP2: a personal adventure
  • Dieter Oschadleus - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Peter Lawson - The Greater Kruger Park Challenge
  • Dieter Oschadleus - Virtual Museum
  • Malcolm Hepplewhite - Wild flowers of the Grassland region

pics
Arjen ringing a Red-throated Wryneck
pics
Brian Guerin's welcome

The Wakkerstroom Bird Club provided teas and a great lunch! After lunch Peter Greaves ran a workshop on how to contribute to the Virtual Museum, and it was very well attended. In the afternoon some of the ringers set up nets at the Amersfoort bridge in Wakkerstroom.

The next morning some of the ringers again set up nets at the Amersfoort bridge in Wakkerstroom. A large number of Southern Masked Weavers were caught. It was freezing cold - Brian's thrmometer showed 4C! Brian and Brenda brought hot coffee which saved us from the cold. In addition to many Southern Masked Weavers, there were a few Fan-tailed Widows but the males of the widow were not in breeding plumage yet.

pics
Southern Masked Weaver male
pics
Fan-tailed Widow male
pics
Snow near Volksrust at Sunday lunch

Ringing totals by species for the weekend (includes recaptures):

Species English Totals
238 Three-banded Plover 1
431 Black-collared Barbet 1
453 Red-throated Wryneck 1
545 Dark Capped Bulbul 1
576 African Stonechat 2
581 Cape Robin Chat 1
604 Lesser Swamp Warbler 4
606 African Reed Warbler 1
646 Levaillant's Cisticola 3
686 Cape Wagtail 5
703 Cape Longclaw 1
707 Common Fiscal 4
722 Bokmakierie 1
746 Pied Starling 2
799 Cape Weaver 6
803 Southern Masked Weaver 70
805 Red-billed Quelea 6
808 Southern Red Bishop 12
816 Fan-tailed Widow 6
843 Common Waxbill 1
  Totals 129

There were a few recaptures: BH65106 was recaptured by Rina at the Bridge - I had ringed it here as an immature male Southern Masked Weaver on 20/03/2010, 6.5 years previously. There were also 3 Southern Masked Weaver retraps from 2012 and one from 2016 January.

BirdLife Northern Natal invited me to speak on Bird Migration in Newcastle on 19 Sept.

Thanks to the Wakkerstroom Bird Club for a really well organised Citizen Scientist day! Special thanks to the hopsitality of Brian and Brenda Guerin. Thanks to BLSA for the venue. Thanks to the speakers and participants from KwaZulu-Natal (Ladysmith, Dundee, Newcastle), Mpumalanga (Wakkerstroom, Standerton, Nelspruit) and Gauteng. Thanks to the ringers for persevering in the cold.

Weaver Wednesday [222] - Discovery [105]: Bates's Weaver

2016-09-14 (741)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Bates's Weaver Ploceus batesi

Bates's Weaver
Bates's Weaver, male (top) and female
figure from Ogilvie-Grant (1910)
Bates's Weaver
Bates's Weaver, male (top) and female,
figure from Bannerman (1949)
Bates's Weaver map
Bates's Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

Bates's Weaver was formally described by Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English zoologist and ornithologist who worked as curator of the bird collection at the British Museum of natural history.

Bates's Weaver was collected by George Latimer Bates, an American naturalist.

Bates visited West Africa in 1895, making a living by farming. In 1905 he settled on the Ja River, Cameroon, calling his farm Bitye (after the Bulu pronunciation of his name). He collected many natural history specimens, especially birds, in his travels and sent many of these to the Natural History Museum in London.

Bates obtained the type specimen of Bates's Weaver, a female in subadult plumage near the Dja River on 29 January 1906, presumably near Bitye farm (as stated by Bannerman 1949a). On 17 Nov 1908 a second specimen, the first adult male, was collected at nearby Kumangola. In the following year four more birds were collected at Bitye and sent to the British Museum. Bates did not observe these rare weavers alive; they were all collected by local boys with bows and arrows (Bates 1930a).

Bates obtained the first Bates's Weaver specimen in January 1906, nearly a month before obtaining the Red-crowned Malimbe type, but Sharpe described the latter first.

Bates's Weaver was first illustrated by Ogilvie-Grant (1910), showing the female type and first male specimen. The next illustration to be published was a line drawing in Bannerman (1949), showing the male and female.

Scientific citation

Othyphantes batesi Sharpe 1908a, Ibis p.348, Dja River, Cameroon.

Meaning of names

batesi, Named after George Latimer Bates (1863-1940), a naturalist in tropical West Africa, 1895-1931.

First English name

Bates's Weaver-Finch (Sharpe 1910a).

Alternate names

Bates's Weaver-Finch.

Collector

George Latimer Bates.

Date collected

29 January 1906.

Locality collected

River Ja, Cameroon.

Type specimens

The type is in the Brisitsh Museum (BM 1908.5.25.104).

Weaver Wednesday [221] - Discovery [104]: Red-crowned Malimbe

2016-09-07 (740)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Red-crowned Malimbe Malimbus coronatus

Red-crowned Malimbe
Red-crowned Malimbe male
figure from Sharpe (1908)
Red-crowned Malimbe
Red-crowned Malimbe pair,
figure from Bannerman (1949)
Red-crowned Malimbe map
Red-crowned Malimbe
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Red-crowned Malimbe was formally described by Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English zoologist and ornithologist who worked as curator of the bird collection at the British Museum of natural history.

The Red-crowned Malimbe was collected by George Latimer Bates, an American naturalist.

Bates visited West Africa in 1895, first to Gabon and later he moved to the south east Cameroon, making a living by farming. In 1905 he settled on the Ja River, calling his farm Bitjie or Bitye (after the Bulu pronunciation of his name). He collected many natural history specimens, especially birds, in his travels and sent many of these to the Natural History Museum in London.

Bates collected a male near the River Ja, probably near his farm Bitye, together with Bates's Nightjar Caprimulgus batesi, and these were described as new species by Sharpe. Bates continued observing this malimbe and collecting more specimens. By collecting pairs at the nest, he realised that the females were all-black. By dissecting juveniles Bates realised that they all had an orange crown - females later moult the crown into black feathers.

In 1928 Bates moved to England and wrote a Handbook on the Birds of West Africa (1930).

The Red-crowned Malimbe was first illustrated by Sharpe (1908), showing the male type. The next illustration to be published was a line drawing in Bannerman (1949), showing the male and female.

Scientific citation

Malimbus coronatus Sharpe 1906a, Bull. Br. Orn. Club 19 p.18, River Ja, Cameroons.

Meaning of names

coronatus, Latin: coronatus, crowned (coronare, to crown).

First English name

Red-crowned Malimbe (Sclater 1930a) and Orange-crowned Malimbus (Bates 1930a).

Alternate names

Orange-crowned Malimbus, The Red-crowned Weaver.

Collector

George Latimer Bates.

Date collected

18 Feb 1906.

Locality collected

River Ja, Cameroon.

Type specimens

The type is in the Brisitsh Museum (BM 1908.5.25.100).

Weaver Wednesday [220] - Discovery [103]: Black-chinned Weaver

2016-08-31 (739)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Black-chinned Weaver Ploceus nigrimentus

Black-chinned Weaver
Black-chinned Weaver
figure from Mackworth (1963)
Black-chinned Weaver
Strange Waver (L), Black-chinned
Weaver female (mid), Brown-capped
Weaver (R), figure from Harrison (1965)
Black-chinned Weaver map
Black-chinned Weaver
distribution, type locality circled
(blue dot - new range)

Introduction

The Black-chinned Weaver was formally described by Anton Reichenow, a German ornithologist and herpetologist.

The Black-chinned Weaver was collected by Jose Alberto de Oliveira Anchieta, a Portuguese explorer and naturalist.

Anchieta moved to Angola with his family, in 1865. He lived in the region of Benguela, establishing a laboratory inside the ruins of a church, and exploring and collecting animals. In 1867, the Portuguese government hired him as a naturalist, but probably also as a secret agent in the Caconda region of Angola. He lived there, researching, exploring and sending many specimens and letters to his scientific correspondents in Lisbon, mainly J.V. Barboza du Bocage.

Unfortunately most of the museum specimens have disappeared, as well as his many letters to Bocage, in a catastrophic fire in the Lisbon Museum in 1978. Anchieta collected 25 new species of mammals, 46 birds and 46 amphibians and ophidians. He did not write any scientific papers, but left this to his correspondents in Lisbon. Many of the species of birds, amphibians, lizards, snakes, fishes and mammals were named after Anchieta.

Anchieta collected two female specimens of the Black-chinned Weaver, but the collection dates are unknown.

The Black-chinned Weaver was first described in 1894 by Jose Vicente Barbosa du Bocage, a Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was curator of the Lisbon Museum. However, Bocage did not realise that he used an invalid name. Several years later, Reichenow realised this when he was working on his book on African birds. Reichenow provided a new name.

The Black-chinned Weaver was first illustrated by Mackworth (1963), many decades after it was first described. The next illustration to be published was a line drawing in Harrison (1965), comparing the basic plumage patterns of several weavers.

Scientific citation

Ploceus nigrimentus Reichenow 1904a, Vögel Afrikas 3 p.39, Galanga, Benguella, Angola.

Meaning of names

nigrimentus, Latin: niger, black; mentum, the chin.

First English name

Black-chinned Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Angola Weaver.

Collector

Jose Alberto de Oliveira Anchieta.

Date collected

Between 1866-1895.

Locality collected

Galanga, Benguella, Angola.

Type specimens

The types were in the Lisbon Museum, but were lost in a fire.
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