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
Sociable Weaver

PHOWN:
Accepted: 25534
(Uploaded: 25534)

Total nests counted: 8067228

Latest weaver links:
116 Young Northern brown-throated Weaver
115 Juvenile Sociable Weaver
114 Red-headed Quelea flock in Mozambique

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
24 Jan 1953, Amblyospiza albifrons kasaica , Thick-billed Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday 3 [240] - Range changes [3]: Sociable Weaver

2017-01-18 (762)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 3: range changes in S Africa (species text)

Sociable Weaver Philetairus socius

map
Sociable Weaver, Range-change map between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-current).
Red, orange and yellow = cells with very large, large, and small relative decreases
Blue, dark green and light green = cells with very large, large and small relative increases.
Cells = quarter-degree grid cells; Only cells with at least 4 checklists in both SABAP1&2 shown. All cells had this species recorded in SABAP1 or in SABAP2 or in both (more about interpretation at Biodiversity Observations 7.62: 1-13).

Range changes in SA

Sociable Weaver
Sociable Weaver,
figure from Birdpix

Range change summary
More 4 lists 30 lists
decreases n % n %
Decrease 101 37 12 36
Tiny change 74 28 12 36
Increase 97 35 9 27
Total 272 100 33 99
In South Africa the Sociable Weaver has more grid cells with decreases in reporting rate than cells showing increases, between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-). The points below match the points on the map above.

Areas with very large increases include:
1. the Springbok area,
2. the area north of the Carnarvon to Britstown road,
3. near Barkley West (this is on the southern edge of the Ghaap plateau),
4. and the northernmost part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Large decreases appear to have occurred:
4. along the lower Orange River,
5. in the area from Augrabies Falls National Park to Kakamas,
6. and the area south of Christiana.

7. Absent on the Ghaap plateau:
There is a large gap in range of the Sociable Weaver around the Ghaap plateau, between Danielskuil and Vryburg. The weaver appears to have been absent from here for at least 100 years. There are new records (SABAP2) in the southern part of this gap (point 3), indicating that the Sociable Weaver may be colonising this area northwards.

Range changes elsewhere

Botswana: range extension near Konkwe Pan (Tyler 2008c).

Weaver Wednesday 3 [239] - Range changes [2]: White-browed Sparrow-Weaver

2017-01-11 (761)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 3: range changes in S Africa (species text)

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali

Read more in Biodiversity Observations.
map
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Range-change map between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-current).
Red, orange and yellow = cells with very large, large, and small relative decreases
Blue, dark green and light green = cells with very large, large and small relative increases.
Cells = quarter-degree grid cells; Only cells with at least 4 checklists in both SABAP1&2 shown. All cells had this species recorded in SABAP1 or in SABAP2 or in both (more about interpretation at Biodiversity Observations 7.62: 1-13).

Range changes in SA

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver,
figure from Birdpix

Range change summary
More 4 lists 30 lists
increases n % n %
Decrease 237 29 46 19
Tiny change 184 22 55 23
Increase 411 49 138 57
Total 832 100 239 100
In South Africa the White-browed Sparrow-Weaver has more grid cells with increases in reporting rate than cells showing decreases, between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-). The points below match the points on the map above.

1. Population increase in the Eastern Cape
The White-browed Sparrow-Weaver has increased in numbers and range in the Eastern Cape, spreading southwards through the Cradock district since 1950.

2. Historic southern limit
Other than the isolated Eastern Cape population, the southern limit of the White-browed Sparrow-Weaver is about 31S, although the limit of the core (higher reporting rate) is about 30S.

3. Population increase in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park shows large increases between SABAP1 and SABAP2, so that the central core range of the White-browed Sparrow-Weaver appears to extend into the Park.

4. Population increase in the Free State
There are widespread large increases in reporting rate in the Free State (other than the western parts).

5. Population increase in KwaZulu-Natal
There are increases and decreases in reporting rate in localised grids in KwaZulu-Natal - there are also additional published sightings in other parts of the province, showing increasing records, probably due to increasing bush encroachment.

6. Population increase in the Lowveld and Kruger National Park
There are increases in reporting rate in the Lowveld and Kruger National Park - there are also additional published sightings in this region, showing increasing records, probably due to increasing bush encroachment.

Range changes elsewhere

Kenya: increase in numbers in Nairobi (Oschadleus 2014d).

Weaver Wednesday 3 [238] - Range changes [1]: Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver

2017-01-04 (760)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday 3: range changes S Africa (species text)

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger

map
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Range-change map between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-current).
Red, orange and yellow = cells with very large, large, and small relative decreases
Blue, dark green and light green = cells with very large, large and small relative increases.
Cells = quarter-degree grid cells; Only cells with at least 4 checklists in both SABAP1&2 shown. All cells had this species recorded in SABAP1 or in SABAP2 or in both (more about interpretation at Biodiversity Observations 7.62: 1-13).

Range changes in SA

weaver
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver,
figure from Birdpix

Range change summary
More 4 lists 30 lists
decreases n % n %
Decrease 125 48 47 49
Tiny change 39 15 17 17
Increase 99 37 32 34
Total 263 100 96 100
In South Africa the Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver has more grid cells with decreases in reporting rate than cells showing increases, between SABAP1 (1987-1991) and SABAP2 (2007-). The points below match the points on the map above.

1. Range expansion westwards from Kathu to Askham
The blue grid cells on the western edge represents a large westward range expansion (between SABAP1 and SABAP2) from Kathu and the Botswana border west to Van Zylsrus and as far as Askham, a distance of about 100km. There is also a PHOWN record from Askham based on the 2010 Google Streetview, indicating nest building and possible breeding.

2. Range extinction in the Free State
The two red cells in the Free State represent the isolated population that was present around Bloemhof Dam, Free State. Birds were first seen in 1981 and nests were seen in 1986. The last published report appears to be from May 2000 and the species no longer occurs here (SABAP2).

3. Range stable along the 26S line of latitude
In South Africa it is found mostly north of 26S (although it ranges to 26S in the western and eastern parts of its range). The 26S line divides the grassveld (south) from the savanna (north) in this area. The Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver is clearly absent south of Pretoria, as in the past.

4. Range stable but low density in eastern corridor
The eastern population of the Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver in South Africa extends southwards in the savanna corridor from Mpumulanga, through the lowlands of eastern Swaziland, and into northern KwaZulu-Natal. The southernmost record is from the Zululand Rhino Reserve. The earliest published record from this corridor is of nests seen in July 1951. An earlier record is a specimen collected on 29 May 1937 in north-eastern Swaziland, suggesting that the species has occurred here in historical times, although early authors did not list it from here. The buffalo-weaver occurs at a very low density in this corridor, with the estimated population being 80 birds in Swaziland.

Range changes elsewhere

Botswana: expansion in SW (Tyler 2012a).
Uganda: recent new records (Rossouw 1998a, Demey 2011b).
Zambia: expanding north-eastwards in Kafue (Robertson 1995b).

Weaver Wednesday [237] - Discovery [120]: Overview 3

2016-12-28 (759)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species list)

Overview - Discovery by author

Introduction

The formal naming of birds started with Linnaeus (1758) who described 5 weavers in 1758, followed by 4 more in 1766. Linnaeus did not see all the specimens himself - he compiled descriptions based on earlier works. The first 9 weavers to be described are relatively common, widespread species, and a key characteristic is that they occur near the coast and on the trading route of the early ships from the far East to Europe. Read more about the Weavers described by Linnaeus here.

The weavers were described by 49 authors (counting first authors only, where more than one was involved; Table 1). Most weavers were described by Reichenow (n=10), followed by Linnaeus (n=9) and Hartlaub (n=8). Reichenow also co-authored the descriptions of 2 more weavers. Most authors were British (16), followed by German (n=13) and American (n=5).

List of authors that published 2 or more new weaver species (full list in a Biodiversity Observations paper - see below):

quelea
Red-billed Quelea type,
figure from Brisson 1760
used by Linnaeus to
name this species

n First author Wikipedia summary
10 Reichenow German ornithologist and herpetologist
9 Linnaeus Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist
8 Hartlaub German physician and ornithologist
7 Sharpe English zoologist
6 Smith Scottish surgeon and naturalist
6 Vieillot French ornithologist
5 Cassin American ornithologist
5 Shelley English geologist and ornithologist
4 Bocage Portuguese zoologist and politician
4 Gmelin German naturalist
4 Rüppell German naturalist and explorer
3 Bonaparte French biologist and ornithologist
3 Cabanis German ornithologist
3 Daudin French zoologist
2 Boddaert Dutch physician and naturalist
2 Chapin American ornithologist
2 Fischer German African explorer
2 Gray English zoologist and author
2 Lichtenstein German physician etc

Illustrations

quelea
Smith's type description of the Spectacled Weaver (1828)
This is one of the earliest type descriptions published wholly in English. Most authors used Latin to describe new species.

Portraits of authors that published most new weaver species descriptions (figures from wikipedia):

portrait
Anton Reichenow
portrait
Carl Linnaeus
portrait
Gustav Hartlaub
portrait
RB Sharpe

Read more

An extensive overview appears in a Biodiversity Observations paper titled Overview of the discovery of the weavers.

Weaver Wednesday [236] - Discovery [119]: Overview 2

2016-12-21 (758)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species list)

Overview - Discovery by distribution

Introduction

The second Weaver Wednesday series, called Discovery, started with the first weaver to be described, the Black-winged Bishop, on 17 September 2014, and ran in chronological sequence for 117 weeks, ending with Kilombero Weaver on 7 December 2016.

Weaver species were first described from 34 different countries, including four Asian countries. Most weaver species were described from Angola and South Africa (n=15 weavers in each country), followed by Tanzania and Senegal (8 each).

Golden-naped Weaver
Golden-naped Weaver,
figure from Gyldenstolpe 1924a
Discovered in the 20th century
deep in the interior of Africa
as late as 1920
Country n     Country n
Angola 15   Sierra Leone 2
South Africa 15   Indonesia 1
Tanzania 8   Nepal 1
Senegal 8   Thailand 1
Kenya 7   Gabon 1
Cameroon 7   Equatorial Guinea 1
Ethiopia 5   Zambia 1
Sudan 5   Eritrea 1
Uganda 5   Somalia 1
Congo, DR 4   South Sudan 1
Madagascar 4   Comoros 1
Sao Tome & Principe 4   Namibia 1
India 3   Benin 1
Ghana 3   Cote d'Ivoire 1
Malawi 2   Gambia 1
Mauritius 2   Liberia 1
Seychelles 2   Nigeria 1

Illustration

map
Weavers described by region and time period:
Red - weavers described from 1758 to 1799.
Yellow - weavers described from 1800 to 1849.
Green - weavers described from 1850 to 1899.
Blue - weavers described from 1900 to 1999.

NOTE: Google has shifted all points slightly to the west when coloured icons are used. Thus the southern most red point (Yellow Bishop) should be moved to the right to locate on the Cape Peninsula. All other markers should be shifted by the same amount to the right.

This figure shows that the earliest weavers (Red on map) to be described were collected on the west coast of Africa, 2 Indian Ocean islands, and Asia. During the early 1800s (Yellow on map) new weavers were collected on the west African coast, southern Africa (coast and inland), Ethiopia to Sudan, and 1 in Asia. During the late 1800s (Green on map) new weavers were collected mostly in tropical Africa from west to east, on Indian Ocean islands, and 1 in Asia. During the 1900s (Blue on map) new weavers were collected mostly in tropical Africa, and 1 in Madagascar.

Read more

A more extensive overview appears in a Biodiversity Observations paper titled Overview of the discovery of the weavers.
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