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
Bertrams Weaver

Accepted: 22479
(Uploaded: 22511)

Total nests counted: 8041336

Latest weaver links:
76 Discovery of Bertram's Weaver Ploceus bertrandi
75 Photos of Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans nest
74 Discovery of Preuss's Weaver Ploceus preussi

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

Weaver Wednesday [210] - Discovery [93]: Bertram's Weaver

2016-06-22 (727)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Bertram's Weaver Ploceus bertrandi

Bertram's Weaver
Bertram's Weaver male & juvenile,
figure from Shelley (1893)
Bertram's Weaver
Bertram's Weaver female,
figure from Shelley (1905)
Bertram's Weaver map
Bertram's Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


Bertram's Weaver was formally described by George Ernest Shelley, an English geologist and ornithologist.

Bertram's Weaver was collected by Alexander Whyte, a Scottish botanist.

Commissioner HH Johnston hired Alexander Whyte to collect fauna and flora specimens in British Central Africa. Bertram Lutley Sclater, the son of the ornithologist Dr. P. L. Sclater, and Commander of the Police Force of British Central Africa 1891-93, accompanied the expedition as security.

Whyte collected birds in 3 localities in southern Malawi in 1891. On 29 May they ascended Mt Zomba, then collected specimens here during Aug-Sep, including two Bertram's Weaver specimens. On 20 Oct the expedition visited Mt Milanji spending 2 weeks on the plateau, collecting one Bertram's Weaver specimen.

Whyte also collected several female Bertram's Weaver specimens in southern Malawi during 1892. These were also investigated by Shelley (in 1894) who described them as males of a separate species. A few decades later, Neunzig 1924a realised that these were the female of Bertram's Weaver, based on a large sample of specimens of both taxa in the Berlin Museum.

Shelley named Bertram's Weaver after Bertram Lutley Sclater, but the scientific name was given as bertrandi rather than as bertrami.

The first illustration of Bertram's Weaver was of a male and juvenile, published by Shelley (1893) in his initial description of the species. The next illustration was of the female of this species in Shelley (1905), initially thought to be the male of a different species.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis bertrandi Shelley 1893a, Ibis, p.23, pl. 2, Plains near Milanji, southern Nyasaland [Zomba].

Meaning of names

bertrandi, Named after Captain Bertrand L. Sclater (1866-1897).

First English name

Nyasa Black-beaded Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Bertrand's Weaver, Bertrand's Masked-Weaver, Nyasa Black-beaded Weaver.


Alexander Whyte.

Date collected

Aug, Sep, Oct 1891.

Locality collected

Milanji (Mount Mulanje) and Zomba, Malawi.

Type specimens

Three syntype are in the British Museum (eg BM 1892.9.10.181).

Weaver Wednesday [209] - Discovery [92]: Preuss's Weaver

2016-06-15 (726)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Preuss's Weaver Ploceus preussi

Preuss's Weaver
Preuss's Weaver juvenile,
figure from Sjostedt (1895)
Preuss's Weaver
Preuss's Weaver heads (circled), cf.
1. Brown-capped Weaver
3. Yellow-capped Weaver
Middle row - chins, rest crowns
figure from Ogilvie-Grant (1917)
Preuss's Weaver map
Preuss's Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Preuss's Weaver was formally described by Anton Reichenow, a German ornithologist and herpetologist.

The Preuss's Weaver was collected by Paul Preuss, a German botanist and collector (born in Prussia).

Preuss lived in Sierra Leone from 1886-1888, and then was sent to help in the Zintgraff military expedition to Kumba, western Cameroon in 1889-1892, as most of Cameroon was a German colony. The troop commander was killed in action, so Preuss took charge and led the troops back to the coast.

In Victoria (now called Limbe), on the southern slopes of Mount Cameroon, Preuss had time to collect plants and some birds, including Preuss's Weaver. His specimens were sent to Berlin where Reichenow described the new birds.

Preuss founded the botanical garden at Victoria in 1901, and he served as first director until 1902.

Preuss collected two male specimens but these were not illustrated. The first illustration of Preuss's Weaver was of a juvenile, published by Sjostedt (1895). The next illustration was of the heads of this species in Ogilvie-Grant (1917), who compared the species with other similar species.

Scientific citation

Symplectes preussi Reichenow 1892c, Journ. f. Orn., 40, p.442, Victoria, Cameroon.

Meaning of names

preussi, Named after Paul Preuss (1861-1926), a German botanist and collector in West Africa, 1886-1888, 1892-1898 and New Guinea, 1903.

First English name

Golden Black-winged Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Congo Golden-backed Weaver, Golden Black-winged Weaver, Golden-backed Weaver, Golden-capped Weaver, Golden-mantle Weaver.


Paul Preuss.

Date collected

12 May 1892.

Locality collected

Limbe (previously Victoria), Cameroon.

Type specimens

The type is in the Berlin Museum (ZMB_29953).

Aldabra Fody - first PHOWN records

2016-06-13 (725)
Nests of the Aldabra Fody

April Burt, Scientific Coordinator on Aldabra Island in the Seychelles, submitted 4 records of 3 different nests on Picard Island. Two nests were abandoned after being built, while the third successfully fledged chicks. The final record shows the chicks begging at the entrance of the nest. This nest was built in a man-made structure, something not recorded for this species previously.

The breeding season of the Aldabra Fody is from November to April. The nests are usually placed quite high in trees, but these nests were lower. The male Aldabra Fody starts building a nest and, once the female has accepted it, both sexes build. Only the female incubates the eggs but both parents feed the chicks.

Read more about the Aldabra Fody here.

There are PHOWN records for 3 of the 7 fody species: Madagascar Fody, Seychelles Fody, Aldabra Fody. Of 117 weaver species, 91 species (78%) have at least one PHOWN record.

PHOtos of Weaver Nests in Asia

2016-06-09 (724)
Mosaic of PHOWN records in southern Asia

PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) is a Virtual Museum, citizen science project of the Animal Demography Unit, to collect and monitor breeding distributions and colony sizes of weaver birds globally. As of 9 June 2016, there are 26 PHOWN records of Asian weavers, and 18 with colony size information. The statistics of colony sizes from PHOWN are as follows:

Species Min Mean Max n
Asian Golden Weaver 14 17.7 23 3
Baya Weaver 3 14.4 70 15

Many more records are needed to obtain better data on current breeding ranges, nest sites, and colony sizes of the Asian weavers. Please consider taking part in PHOWN - To take part, register and upload records at Virtual Museum (read the "How to" pdf for help).

Weaver Wednesday [208] - Discovery [91]: Jackson's Widowbird

2016-06-08 (723)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni

Jackson's Widowbird
Jackson's Widowbird male & female,
figure from Sharpe (1891)
Jackson's Widowbird
Jackson's Widowbird eggs,
figure from Ogilvie-Grant (1910)
Jackson's Widowbird map
Jackson's Widowbird
distribution, type locality circled


Jackson's Widowbird 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 Jackson's Widowbird was collected by Frederick John Jackson, an English administrator, explorer and ornithologist.

In 1889 Jackson led an expedition designed to open up the regions between Mombasa and Lake Victoria, which was largely unknown to Europeans at that time, and if possible to obtain news of Emin Pasha. He travelled towards Lake Victoria, reaching Lake Naivasha in Sep, and continued up the escarpment to Lumbwa on 14 Oct 1889. Here Jackson obtained the first Jackson's Widowbird, a male.

Jackson then went north and east to travel around the Lake Victoria to Mt Elgon, where he collected new bird species, including the Brown-capped Weaver (which was described by Sharpe a few months before describing this widow).

On Jackson's return from Uganda through Kenya, along the Rift Valley lakes. He passed Lake Baringo in June 1890 and then collected more specimens of Jackson's Widowbird flocks in the grasslands near Lake Nakuro and again at Lake Elmenteita (the males were in breeding plumage). Jackson reached Lake Naivasha on 27 June 1990. The specimens from Nakuro and Elmenteita are labelled as 22 Jul 1890 but this should be June 1890, based on his travel itinerary.

The first illustration of Jackson's Widowbird was of the male syntype, published by Sharpe (1891). The next illustration was of the eggs of this species in Ogilvie-Grant (1910).

Scientific citation

Drepanoplectes jacksoni Sharpe 1891a, Ibis p.246, pl. 5, Masailand, near Lake Nakuru, western Kenya Colony.

Meaning of names

jacksoni, Named after Sir Frederick Jackson (1860-1929) Governor of Uganda, 1911-1917, naturalist, collector, and author.

First English name

Jackson's Whydah (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Dancing Whydah, Jackson's Dancing Whydah, Jackson's Whydah.


Frederick John Jackson.

Date collected

14 October 1889 and June 1890.

Locality collected

Masailand (Lakes Nakuru and Elmenteita, and Lumbwa), Kenya.

Type specimens

Six syntypes are in the Bristish Museum (eg BM 1893.12.1.3), and Tervuren Museum.
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