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
Strange Weaver

PHOWN:
Accepted: 24702
(Uploaded: 24702)

Total nests counted: 8060905

Latest weaver links:
93 Cape Weaver with praying mantis for chicks
92 Red-headed Weaver in KZN
91 Moulting Yellow Bishop male

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
24 Aug 1960, Ploceus ocularis brevior , Spectacled Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [219] - Discovery [102]: Strange Weaver

2016-08-24 (738)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Strange Weaver Ploceus alienus

Strange Weaver
Strange Weaver
figure from Shelley (1905)
Strange Weaver
Strange Weaver egg (circled)
figure from Ogilvie-Grant (1910)
Strange Weaver map
Strange Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Strange Weaver was formally described by Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English zoologist.

The Strange Weaver was collected by Geoffrey Francis Archer, an English ornithologist, big game hunter and colonial official.

In 1901 the 19-year-old Archer joined his uncle Frederick John Jackson, the acting high commissioner in Uganda. His uncle sent him on an ornithological collecting trip in early 1902. Archer visited Lake Albert, the Semliki valley and the Rwenzori Mountains, discovering over twenty new species and subspecies. Four specimens of the Strange Weaver were collected in the Ruwenzori Mountains between 7 and 26 February. Archer noted that this weaver was common here. The specimens were sent to the British Museum.

The species was described later in the same year by Bowdler Sharpe as Sitagra aliena, where aliena means alien or strange. In fact, the English name for this species was Alien Weaver for several decades before becoming Strange Weaver. At this time there were many genera for the true weavers and Sharpe placed it in the genus Sitagra, which contained weavers with slender bills and black masks. However, this new species had a black head and throat, ie. the black area was much larger than a mask. His type description implies discussion with GE Shelley who thought this species best fit in with the Spectacled Weaver genus (Hyphanturgus), due to the slender bill and other similar characters. Either way, Sharpe considered it a strange weaver because it did not clearly fit into any weaver genus described in Shelley's book (1905, The birds of Africa, comprising all the species which occur in the Ethiopian Region. Vol. 4, Part 2).

It has been claimed that "Sitagra aliena" was based on an anagram of Aline referring to Aline Jackson (nee Cooper), the aunt of Geoffrey Archer. However, "aliena" has an additional letter and thus is not an anagram. In Sharpe's type description, he clearly mentioned the classification problem and thus could only have meant to name the species as "strange".

The first illustration of the Strange Weaver was of the adult, published by Shelley (1905). The next illustration to be published 50 years later by Mackworth (1955).

Scientific citation

Sitagra aliena Sharpe 1902b, Bull. Br. Orn. Club 13 p.21, Ruwenzori, Uganda.

Meaning of names

alienus, Latin: alienus, strange, foreign.

First English name

Alien Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Alien Weaver, Reichenbach's Weaver.

Collector

Geoffrey Francis Archer.

Date collected

Feb 1902.

Locality collected

Ruwenzori, Uganda.

Type specimens

The types are in the British Museum.

Weaver Wednesday [218] - Discovery [101]: Weyns's Weaver

2016-08-17 (737)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Weyns's Weaver Ploceus weynsi

Weyns's Weaver
Weyns's Weaver male & female
figure from Dubois (1905)
Weyns's Weaver
Weyns's Weaver male
figure from Mackworth (1955)
Weyns's Weaver
Weyns's Weaver female
figure from Mackworth (1955)
Weyns's Weaver map
Weyns's Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Weyns's Weaver was formally described by Alphonse Joseph Charles Dubois, a Belgian naturalist and curator of the department of vertebrates at the Royal Museum of Natural History in Brussels.

The Weyns's Weaver was collected by Auguste Francois Guillaume Weyns, a Belgian Lieutenant-Colonel and explorer.

Weyns visited Africa four times before retiring in 1900, the first trip being to the village of Banana, Congo in 1888. In 1890 Weyns was appointed to protect the construction of the railway which was to connect Matadi to Stanley Pool. From 1894 to 1897 he again worked to protect the Company Railway in Belgian Congo. Weyns had wide interests and during this time he took many photos (eg published in the French magazine Congo illustre), and collected many specimens (plants, mammals, birds and insects).

In 1898 the Congo Museum was established in Tervuren. Weyns left Antwerp on 11 June 1898 on board the Albertville steamer to attend the opening of the Congo Railroad. He travelled much of the state, as far as the Stanley Falls and visited the lower reaches of several major tributaries of the river. He returned to Belgium on 9 August 1899, contributing many zoological, botanical, anthropological, geological, paleontological specimens and photographs to the Tervuren Museum.

It is most likely on the 1898-1899 trip that Weyns collected the weaver that was later named after him. 11 of the 15 collected specimens of Weyns's Weaver are still at Tervuren Museum.

The first illustration of the Weyns's Weaver was of the adult male and female, published by Dubois (1905). The next illustrations were published 50 years later by Mackworth (1955).

Scientific citation

Melanopteryx weynsi Dubois 1900a, Orn. Monatsb. 8: p.69, Bumba, Congo River, northern Belgian Congo.

Meaning of names

weynsi, Named after Lieutenant Colonel A.F.G. Weyns (1854-1944) Belgian explorer and collector in tropical Africa, 1888-1903.

First English name

Weyns's Black-headed Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Weyns's Black-headed Weaver, Weyns's Yellow-bellied Black Weaver.

Collector

Auguste F G Weyns.

Date collected

Between 1888-1900, probably 1898-1899.

Locality collected

Bumba, Congo River, DR Congo.

Type specimens

11 of the 15 types are in the Tervuren Museum.

Weaver Wednesday [217] - Discovery [100]: Mountain Marsh Widowbird

2016-08-10 (736)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Mountain Marsh Widowbird Euplectes psammocromius

Mountain Marsh Widowbird
Mountain Marsh Widowbird adult
figure from Reichenow (1902)
Mountain Marsh Widowbird
Mountain Marsh Widowbird adult
figure from Mackworth (1955)
Mountain Marsh Widowbird map
Mountain Marsh Widowbird
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Mountain Marsh Widowbird was formally described by Anton Reichenow, a German ornithologist and herpetologist.

The Mountain Marsh Widowbird was collected by Friedrich Fulleborn, a Prussian physician.

Fulleborn studied medicine and natural sciences in Berlin. From 1896 onward, he was a military physician assigned to the Schutztruppe in German East Africa (Tanzania). In 1898-1900 he participated in the Nyassa- and Kingagebirgs Expedition to southern Tanzania, where he conducted anthropological and ethnographic research. He also collected bird specimens, which he sent to Berlin. In 1899 he collected birds in the region north of Lake Malawi (but in Tanzania), a region not explored ornithologically until then. Fulleborn found the type of the Mountain Marsh Widowbird at Tandala in Ukinga, Tanzania.

The first illustration of the Mountain Marsh Widowbird was of an adult male, published by Reichenow (1902). The next illustrations were published much later, from the 1980s onwards.

Scientific citation

Penthetria psammocromia Reichenow 1900b, Orn. Monatsb. 8 p.39, Tandala in Ukinga, Tukuyu district, south-western Tanganyika.

Meaning of names

psammocromius, Greek: Psammos, sand; khroma, complexion or colour; reference to its yellow shoulder patch.

First English name

Fulleborn's Marsh Whydah (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Buff-shouldered Widowbird, Montane Marsh Widowbird, Montane Widowbird, Mountain Marsh Whydah, Nyasa Marsh-Whydah.

Collector

Friedrich Fulleborn.

Date collected

2 May 1899.

Locality collected

Tandala in Ukinga, Tanzania.

Type specimens

The type is in the Berlin Museum (ZMB_2000.8146).

Weaver Wednesday [216] - Discovery [99]: Olive-headed Weaver

2016-08-03 (735)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Olive-headed Weaver Ploceus olivaceiceps

Olive-headed Weaver
Olive-headed Weaver adult
figure from Reichenow (1902)
Olive-headed Weaver
Olive-headed Weaver adult
figure from Mackworth (1955)
Olive-headed Weaver map
Olive-headed Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

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

The Olive-headed Weaver was collected by Friedrich Fulleborn, a Prussian physician.

Fulleborn studied medicine and natural sciences in Berlin. From 1896 onward, he was a military physician assigned to the Schutztruppe in German East Africa (Tanzania). In 1898-1900 he participated in the Nyassa- und Kingagebirgs Expedition to southern Tanzania, where he conducted anthropological and ethnographic research. He also collected bird specimens, including the type of the Olive-headed Weaver, while near Songea

The first illustration of the Olive-headed Weaver was of an adult, published by Reichenow (1902). The next illustration was published much later by Mackworth (1955).

Scientific citation

Symplectes olivaceiceps Reichenow 1899a, Ornithol. Monatsber. 7:7, Songea, Tanzania.

Meaning of names

olivaceiceps, Modern Latin: olivaceus, olivaceous; L. -ceps, headed.

First English name

Olive-headed Golden Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Olive-headed Golden Weaver.

Collector

Friedrich Fulleborn.

Date collected

1898.

Locality collected

Songea, Tanzania.

Type specimens

The type is in the Berlin Museum (ZMB_47.105).

Weaver Wednesday [215] - Discovery [98]: Juba Weaver

2016-07-27 (734)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Juba Weaver Ploceus dichrocephalus

Juba Weaver
Juba Weaver adult
figure from Mackworth (1955)
Ruspoli's Turaco
Ruspoli's Turaco
figure from Wikipedia
Juba Weaver map
Juba Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Juba Weaver was formally described by Tommaso Salvadori, an Italian zoologist and ornithologist who published at least 300 ornithological papers.

The Juba Weaver was collected by Prince Eugenio Ruspoli, an Italian aristocrat (descendent of the famous noble family in Rome) and naturalist.

Ruspoli explored the region between Ethiopia and Somalia during two visits, the first being in 1891. During his second expedition to north-east Africa (1892-1893) he explored the regions around Lake Rudolf. Ruspoli collected only 35 specimens of 32 species (Salvadori 1896). On 4 December 1893 he was killed by an elephant while hunting around Lake Bissan Abbaia (Abaya), north-east of Lake Stefania.

The specimens Ruspoli had collected, including birds, insects, reptiles and mammals, were sent to the Museum of Genoa in Italy, but the specimens were in bad condition and without proper labels. Salvadori recognised 3 new species: Juba Weaver, Salvadori's Serin Serinus xantholaema, and Ruspoli's Turaco Turacus ruspolii. Although the type locality is often given as Somalia, these species would have been collected in present day Ethiopia.

The first illustration of the Juba Weaver was of an adult male, published several decades after first description, by Mackworth (1955). The next illustrations were printed in field guides from 1995 onwards.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis dichrocephalus Salvadori 1896a, Ann. Mus. Genova 16(2), p.45, Italian Somaliland and Gallaland.

Meaning of names

dicrocephalus, Greek: Dikhrous, two-coloured; -kephalos, headed.

First English name

Chestnut-headed Golden Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Chestnut-headed Golden Weaver, Jubaland Weaver, Salvadori's Weaver, Somali Yellow-backed Weaver.

Collector

Prince Eugenio Ruspoli.

Date collected

1892 or 1893.

Locality collected

Ethiopia.

Type specimens

The type is in the Museum of Genoa.
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