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
Lesser Masked Weaver

PHOWN:
Accepted: 27622
(Uploaded: 27622)

Total nests counted: 7990163

Latest weaver reference: PAPER (ecology): Frogs in weaver nests

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

Weaver Wednesday [163] - Discovery [46]: Lesser Masked Weaver

2015-07-29 (659)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius

Lesser Masked Weaver
Lesser Masked Weaver male,
figure from Heuglin 1871
Lesser Masked Weaver
Lesser Masked Weaver nest
figure from Hoesch 1936
Lesser Masked Weaver map
Lesser Masked Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Lesser Masked Weaver was formally named by Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell, a German naturalist and explorer, especially in north-east Africa. Rüppell was the first naturalist to travel through Ethiopia and many birds are named after him.

The Lesser Masked Weaver was 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, at the time an autonomous district of Ethiopia, with whom they negotiated a commercial treaty. Harris collected birds and other scientific data during the trip. Harris wrote about these 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 Lesser Masked Weaver which he collected. The type specimen was taken to the East India Company Museum and later [between 1858 and 1971] transferred to the British Museum.

Rüppell illustrated many of the birds he described, but did not illustrate the Lesser Masked Weaver. The first illustration of a Lesser Masked Weaver is a colour painting of its head in Heuglin 1871. Interestingly, the species was not illustrated again for many decades and the second illustration pertaining to this species is a photo of a nest in Hoesch 1936.

Scientific citation

Ploceus intermedius Ruppell 1845 Syst. Uebers, pp 71, 76 1845 Shoa, central Abyssinia.

Meaning of names

intermedius - Latin: intermedius, intermediate (i.e. sharing characteristics with or acting as a link between two other species).

First English name

Cabanis' Weaver Bird (Layard 1884). One of the subspecies of the Lesser Masked Weaver was named after Cabanis, hence this early English name - the subspecies is no longer recognised.

Alternate names

Abyssinian Masked Weaver, Black-cheeked Weaver, Cababis's Masked Weaver, Cabanis' Weaver Bird, Cabanis's Masked Weaver, Ethiopian Masked Weaver, Masked Weaver.

Collector

Major WC Harris.

Date collected

1841-43.

Locality collected

Shoa = Shewa, central Ethiopia.

Type specimens

One specimen is known to be in the British Museum (BM 1861.5.8.41).

Bird ringing course, Fregate Island, 12-22 July 2015

2015-07-24 (658)

Seychelles Fody, male with white covert

Madagascar Fody, male

Fregate Island is a private island named after the former abundance of frigatebirds on the island. The conservation staff of Fregate Island invited me to provide a bird ringing training course in July 2015. The training involved mist-netting of seabirds and land birds. A total of 397 birds was caught (including recaptures).

In the weaver family, 20 Madagascar Fodies and 162 Seychelles Fodies were caught. Most Seychelles Fodies were caught in the agricultural area, where they were feeding on ripening figs.

For a full trip report, see Bird ringing course, Fregate Island, Seychelles, 12-22 July 2015.
Two previous bird ringing courses were held in the Seychelles:
Cousin Island, 18-23 September 2011.
Cousin & Cousine Islands, 11-16 Feb 2014.

A great thanks to the management of Fregate, especially Tanya and Erin, for a wonderful stay in the Seychelles!

Weaver Wednesday [162] - Discovery [45]: Giant Weaver

2015-07-22 (657)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Giant Weaver Ploceus grandis

Giant Weaver
Giant Weaver male,
figure from Fraser 1849
Giant Weaver
Giant Weaver,
different races
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Giant Weaver map
Giant Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Giant Weaver was formally named by George Robert Gray, an English zoologist and author.

The Giant Weaver was collected by Louis Fraser, a British zoologist and collector. Fraser participated in the British Royal Naval Expedition to the Niger River in 1841-42 as one of five civilian scientists appointed to the expedition.

Fraser became ill on board and was considered too unfit to continue with the expedition when it returned to the West African mainland in March 1842. He made his own way to Bioko, reaching it by 15 May 1842, after spending six weeks along the Gulf of Guinea in other naval vessels. He began a collection of birds, mammals, fish and crustaceans. The months spent in the Gulf of Guinea from March to July were profitable (Moore 2001), and he collected the Giant Weaver on St Tome Island. In 1847, the British Museum purchased 64 bird skins from Fraser, including the Giant Weaver.

Fraser published descriptions of some of his new birds in 1842, but named his weaver as Ploceus collaris. This name had already been used by Vieillot for a subspecies of the Village Weaver and was thus not a valid naming. Gray realised this and provided a new name in his list of genera and species in 1844.

The first illustration of a Giant Weaver is a colour painting in Fraser 1849. The next illustration is by Reichenbach (1863), also of an adult male.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis grandis Gray 1844 Gen. Birds, 2, p.[1] of Ploceinae = Ploceus collaris Fraser nec Vieillot (1842, PZSL, p.142); Sao Tome.

Meaning of names

grandis - Latin: large, great.

First English name

St. Thomas' Weaver Bird (Fraser 1849).

Alternate names

St. Thomas' Weaver Bird, The great Weawer.

Collector

Louis Fraser.

Date collected

1842, between March to July.

Locality collected

St. Tome Island.

Type specimens

One specimen is known to be in the British Museum (BM 1847.1.18.3) together with 3 more syntypes (Warren 1971).

Weaver Wednesday [161] - Discovery [44]: Chestnut Weaver

2015-07-15 (656)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Chestnut Weaver Ploceus rubiginosus

Chestnut Weaver
Chestnut Weaver male,
figure from Ruppell 1840
Chestnut Weaver
Chestnut Weaver,
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Chestnut Weaver map
Chestnut Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Chestnut Weaver was formally described by Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell, a German naturalist and explorer, especially in north-east Africa. Rüppell was the first naturalist to travel through Ethiopia and many birds are named after him.

On Rüppell's third journey to Africa, in 1831-34, he travelled to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, and along the coast of the Red Sea to Massawa (Steinheimer 2005). Rüppell stayed in this area a few months at the end of 1831 and into early 1832, and then travelled inland with a trade caravan to reach the Abyssinian Highlands in 1833. He found the Chestnut Weaver at only one locality on his travels. The weavers were in small family parties at high altitude and he collected a male, female and young bird.

The first illustration of a Chestnut Weaver is a colour painting in Ruppell 1840. The next illustration is by Reichenbach (1863), also of an adult male.

Scientific citation

Ploceus rubiginosus Ruppell 1840 Neue Wirbelt., Vogel, p.93, 100; pl. 33, fig. 1; Temben province, northern Abyssinia.

Meaning of names

rubiginosus - Latin: rusty, ferruginous.

First English name

The rufous Weawer (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Angola Chestnut Weaver, Chocolate Weaver, The rufous Weawer.

Collector

Eduard Rüppell.

Date collected

1833.

Locality collected

Temben province, northern Ethiopia.

Type specimens

One specimen is known to be in the British Museum (Vell. Cat. XX:239 a) (Sharpe 1890) - this specimen was aquired from the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt in 1834. Senckenberg Museum has two additional syntypes, a male and a female (SMF 12645, 69062).

Weaver Wednesday [160] - Discovery [43]: Rüppell's Weaver

2015-07-08 (655)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Rüppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula

Rüppell's Weaver
Rüppell's Weaver male,
figure from Ruppell 1840
Rüppell's Weaver
Rüppell's Weaver,
different races
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Rüppell's Weaver map
Rüppell's Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Rüppell's Weaver was formally described by Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell, a German naturalist and explorer, especially in north-east Africa. Rüppell was the first naturalist to travel through Ethiopia and many birds are named after him.

Rüppell thought this species was an oriole, hence the latin name he chose (see below). He described a male, female and young bird, finding Rüppell's Weaver to be a common species in the Modat valley on the coast of Eritrea, where he collected the specimens. On Rüppell's third journey to Africa, in 1831-34, he travelled to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, and along the coast of the Red Sea to Massawa (Steinheimer 2005). It is unclear where the Modat valley lies, and the area of Massawa on the coast is considered the modern type locality for the Rüppell's Weaver. Rüppell stayed in this area a few months at the end of 1831 and into early 1832.

The first illustration of a Rüppell's Weaver is a colour painting in Ruppell 1840. The next illustration is by Reichenbach (1863), also of an adult male.

Scientific citation

Ploceus galbula Ruppell 1840 Neue Wirbelt., Vogel, p.92, pl. 32 (fig. 2); Modat Valley, Eritrea.

Meaning of names

galbula - Latin: a small yellowish bird (dim. of galbina, a small yellow bird; galbus, yellow).

First English name

The Oriole Weawer (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Canary Weaver, The Oriole Weawer.

Collector

Eduard Rüppell.

Date collected

1831 or 1832.

Locality collected

Modat Valley [=Massaua area], Eritrea.

Type specimens

One specimen is known to be in the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt (specimen 12644), but more types should still exist.
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