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
Eastern Golden Weaver

Accepted: 27522
(Uploaded: 27522)

Total nests counted: 7988977

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

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

Longevity record for the Eastern Golden Weaver

2015-07-02 (653)
Eastern Golden Weaver male
Eastern Golden Weaver, or Yellow Weaver, Ploceus subaureus with ring BH12812 was recaptured on 7 December 2014 by Andrew Pickles at Umzumbe Floodplain in KwaZulu-Natal as an adult male. It had been ringed, also as an adult male, by Andrew on the same floodplain on 7 December 2002 (coincidentally on the same day and month!). The elapsed time between ringing and recapture is 12 years to the day, a new longevity record for the species.

The previous record was of a female at 8 years 5 months (see news item here). The new record had been overlooked until now. To date, 5069 Eastern Golden Weavers have been ringed, 411 have been recaptured, and 18 have been recovered.

For more weaver longevity records, see here.

Weaver Wednesday [159] - Discovery [42]: Eastern Golden Weaver

2015-07-01 (652)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Eastern Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus

Eastern Golden Weaver
Eastern Golden Weaver male,
figure from Smith 1839
Eastern Golden Weaver
Eastern Golden Weaver,
different races
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Eastern Golden Weaver map
Eastern Golden Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Eastern Golden Weaver was formally described by Sir Andrew Smith, a Scottish surgeon, naturalist, explorer and zoologist.

Smith lived in South Africa from 1821 to 1837, mainly in Grahamstown and Algoa Bay (i.e. Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape, and in Cape Town in the Western Cape (Kirby 1965). Smith's type-localities are often imprecise because he was more interested in describing ranges than providing formal type-localities. Smith collected ten specimens of the Eastern Golden Weaver 'in the neighbourhood of Algoa Bay'.

Smith formally described the Eastern Golden Weaver in 1839, but he refers to an earlier description by him, i.e. 'Ploceus subaureus Smith. Proceedings of South African Institution, April, 1832'. This reference has not been traced (Oschadleus 2007) but shows that he had collected at least one specimen of this species by 1832.

The first illustration of a Eastern Golden Weaver is a colour painting by George Henry Ford who painted for Smith. The next illustration is by Reichenbach (1863).

Scientific citation

Ploceus subaureus Smith 1839; Illustr. Zool. South Africa, Aves, pl. 30 (and text); Algoa Bay, eastern Cape.

Meaning of names

subaureus - Latin: sub-, underneath; aureus, golden.

First English name

The yellow-golden Jaunisserin (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

(Red-eyed) Yellow Weaver, African Golden Weaver, Algoa-Bay Weaverbird, Bohndorff's Golden Weaver, Canary-coloured Weaver Bird, Golden Weaver, Mnana Golden Weaver, Olive-headed Golden Weaver, Smith's Golden Weaver, The brimstone coloured Jaunisserin, The yellow-golden Oriolin, Yellow Weaver


Andrew Smith.

Date collected

Before 1832.

Locality collected

Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Type specimens

One specimen is known to be in the Bristish museum (BM 1845.7.6.21), but more types should still exist.

Clarke's Weaver - second breeding record

2015-06-30 (651)
Clarke's Weaver, photo by Colin Jackson
Clarke's Weavers have been found breeding again in Kenya. The first breeding event ever for this species was reported in 2013 (see news). On 12 June 2015 Fleur Ng'weno sent the following meassage to birding listserver AfricanBirding:

Julio Mwambire and Japhet Garama of Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group (DWCG) have found the second confirmed breeding site for Clarke's Weavers in the world. Like the first breeding site, it is in Dakatcha Woodland Important Bird Area northwest of Malindi.

During monthly bird monitoring organized by Nature Kenya, Mwambire and Garama recorded large flocks of Clarke's Weavers at Munyenzeni wetland near Bore viewpoint in late April, but no breeding activity.

Then on 9 May 2015, Mwambire and Garama found Clarke's Weavers building nests among the sedges in a pool of the seasonal Gandi River.

On May 21 and 22, Rupi Mangat, Catherine Ngarachu, Brian Wambua, Albert Baya and I joined Mwambire, Garama, Peter Wario and Samson Katisho of DWCG on to view this second Clarke's Weaver breeding site. The sedge-filled pool in the Gandi River was busy with weavers. We could see male and female Clarke's Weavers sitting in the tops of the sedges, and estimated about 80 Clarke's Weaver nests. Some of the birds were shivering their wings, apparently in display. There were also a number of Grosbeak Weavers with nests, and flocks of Red-headed and Red-billed Queleas.

Male and female Clarke's Weavers flew and off and soon returned with food in their beaks to feed the young in the nests. The adults brought mainly insects, including caterpillars and grasshoppers. They continued to bring food all morning, and the next day we watched them bringing food in the afternoon.

Yesterday, June 11, Julio Mwambire reported "Now young ones flying around perching on the shrubs in the wetland and the bushes, in small flocks joining adults flying to the feeding grounds".

It seems that we can report a successful Clarke's Weaver breeding event in Dakatcha Woodland IBA.

Wishing you good birding, Fleur

Weaver Wednesday [158] - Discovery [41]: Red-headed Malimbe

2015-06-24 (650)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis

Red-headed Malimbe
Red-headed Malimbe male,
figure from Vieillot 1805
Red-headed Malimbe
Red-headed Malimbe male
(inset is a female showing the black
forehead), figure from Fraser 1849
Red-headed Malimbe map
Red-headed Malimbe
distribution, type locality circled


The Red-headed Malimbe was formally described by William John Swainson, an English zoologist and artist.

Swainson described this species based on a painting by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist. Vieillot described several weavers from Cabinda, including this species. However, Vieillot, thought that this bird was the female of the Crested Malimbe. Ironically, he noted "We might suspect that this female would be a different species than the male above". Both Crested and Red-headed Malimbes had been collected by Jean Perrein, a French naturalist, in Cabinda - he saw both species together and thought they belonged to one species (he did not have the luxury of binoculars).

Vieillot noted that Perrein collected this species in the kingdom of Congo; Perrein is known to have been based at Malimbe (now Malembo) and this is taken as the type locality.

The first illustration of a Red-headed Malimbe was published by Vieillot in 1805. The next illustration was published by Fraser 1849 (of a pair collected in Sao Tome).

Scientific citation

Ploceus rubricollis Swainson 1838 Anim. Menag., p.306 Malimba, Portuguese Congo (ex Vieillot, Ois. Chant., pl. 43).

Meaning of names

rubricollis - Latin: ruber, red; Mod. L. -collis, necked.

First English name

Red-crowned Euplectes (Fraser 1849).

Alternate names

Angola Red-headed Malimbe, Bartlett's Red-headed Weaver, Lagos Red-headed Malimbe, Nigerian Red-headed Weaver, Red-crowned Euplectes, Red-headed Weaver, The red-necked Malimbus, Uganda Malimbe, Upper Guinea Red-headed Malimbe.


Jean Perrein.

Date collected

Before 1805 when Vieillot described it, and probably before 1802 when Perrein was in Cabinda.

Locality collected

Malimbe =Malembo, Cabinda, Angola.

Type specimens

The type may be in the Paris Natural History Museum.

Weavers as pests

2015-06-23 (649)
Sorghum field, often attached by weavers
Many weavers are seed eaters and may thus feed on small grain monoculture crops causing economic losses to agriculture. Important crops that are attacked by weavers include like wheat, millet, sorghum and rice. There are major pests in Africa (several species), southern Asia (Baya Weaver) and in the Indian Ocean islands (Red Fody). Many of the seed-eating weavers are nomadic opportunists, and can move some distance in flocks to concentrate at crops.

The greatest avian pest is the Red-billed Quelea because it is so abundant in sub-Saharan Africa. Read more about the quelea here, a listing of news articles including stories about its pest status.

Although may weavers are an agricultural pest at times and in certain locations, they also provide useful ecosystem functions (read here).

The lists below give an indication of the species that have been recorded as agricultural pests, but the list is not necessarily exhaustive.

birdpix 15225
Red-billed Queleas at cattle feedlot
by John Fincham

Weavers that are major agricultural pests (at least in parts of their range)
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops
Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
Chestnut Weaver Ploceus rubiginosus
Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix
Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis
Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus

Weavers that are moderate agricultural pests
Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer
Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macroura
Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris
Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus
Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis albirostris
Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri
Ruppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula

Red-billed Quelea flock leaving their roost

Weavers that are minor agricultural pests
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
Eastern Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus
Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus
Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons
Cardinal Quelea Quelea cardinalis
Black-winged Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis
Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus
Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni
Cinnamon Weaver Ploceus badius
Heuglin's Masked Weaver Ploceus heuglini
Northern Masked Weaver Ploceus taeniopterus

All news items
Send news items Dieter Oschadleus - see left