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
Yellow-backed Weaver
Black-throated Weaver

Accepted: 14162
(Uploaded: 14162)

Total nests counted: 7949069

Latest weaver reference: PAPER: Weavers in Vilanculos

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

Weaver Wednesday - Discovery [120]: Yellow-backed Weaver

2014-10-01 (576)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Yellow-backed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus

Yellow-backed Weaver
First pic of Yellow-backed Weaver,
from Albin 1738
Yellow-backed Weaver
Duke of Chandos, owner of
the Yellow-backed Weaver type,
from wikipedia
Yellow-backed Weaver map
Yellow-backed Weaver distribution,
type locality circled


Linnaeus based this species description on the publication of Eleazar Albin. Albin based his illustration and text of this species on birds in the aviary of Grace the Duke of Chandos, James Brydges.

Albin, an English naturalist and water-colour illustrator, included a short text and copper plate engraving illustrations in his book "A natural history of birds", and Vol 3 contained the Yellow-backed Weaver. Albin called the bird Gamboa Groasbeak.

Linnaeus listed the type locality as Gvinea, based on Albin's locality of Gamboa on the coast of Guinea. There is a Gamboa in Angola, but Albin's locality probably refers to Gambia rather than Guinea.

Scientific citation

Loxia melanocephala Linnaeus 1758 Syst. Nat., ed. 10, p.175 Guinea

Meaning of names

melanocephala (Greek) Melas, black; -kephalos, headed

Alternate names

Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-collared Weaver


Unknown, sent to the Duke of Chandos in England.

Date collected

Before 1735, when Albin painted the bird (date on painting: 9 Sept 1735).

Locality collected

Probably Gambia.

Type specimens

No type specimens known to survive, but the painting of Albin serves as a type.

PAPER: Weavers in Vilanculos

2014-09-29 (575)
Read C, Tarboton WR, Davies GBP, Anderson MD, Anderson TA. 2014. An annotated checklist of birds of the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, southern Mozambique. Ornithological Observations 5: 370-408.

New range record for Black-winged Bishop
shown as red circle
Abstract. The Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary (VCWS) lies on the San Sebastian Peninsula, Inhambane Province, southern Mozambique. The dominant terrestrial habitat is low miombo Brachystegia savanna. Less extensive terrestrial habitats include sand forest, dune forest, dune thicket, and open scrub. Freshwater wetlands form the area's most outstanding feature and include a large number of closed pans, permanent lakes, ephemeral and permanent marshes. Salt water habitats include large expanses of tidally-influenced sand-flats, salt marshes and mangroves in the Inhambane Estuary and along the northern and north-western shores of the peninsula. Based on three surveys (conducted in 2002, 2012 and 2013) and miscellaneous observations (2003 to 2013), a total of 285 species have been recorded, as well as an additional 23 unconfirmed species, giving a total species count of 308 species for the VCWS. Significant populations of Greater Flamingo, Crab Plover, Olive Bee-Beeeater, and Lemon-breasted Canary occur within the VCWS. Other noteworthy records include Wattled Crane, Greater Frigatebird, Cape Teal, Long-toed Plover, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Sooty Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Common Black-headed Gull, and Green-backed Woodpecker, all species that are rare in southern Mozambique. New records for Sul do Save include Pallid Harrier, Lesser Noddy and Black-winged Bishop. Despite incomplete counts, it is evident that large numbers of Palaearctic charadriiforms and other waders are present in summer. Breeding evidence is confirmed for only 22 species, with equivocal evidence for another nine species, but notably includes large breeding colonies of Olive Bee-eater. The wetlands in the Sanctuary were inundated by Cyclone Leon-Eline in February 2000, Cyclone Japhet in March 2003 and Cyclone Favio in February 2007. A progressive drying out of the freshwater wetlands in the Sanctuary has been noticeable since the cyclonic inundation episodes with a associated decline in waterbird numbers. It is possible that episodic recharging of wetlands by tropical cyclones is an important and overlooked ecological factor in creating suitable habitat for breeding waterbirds in Mozambique. Miscellaneous behavioural and ecological notes are also included.

This study includes the following weavers:
Thick-billed Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Village Weaver
Southern Masked Weaver
Lesser Masked Weaver
Eastern Golden Weaver
Red-billed Quelea
Southern Red Bishop
Black-winged Bishop - a male was seen in January 2004, which is a new range record (see species text).
Fan-tailed Widowbird
White-winged Widowbird
The Southern Brown-throated Weaver and Red-headed Weaver have been recorded from the area, but not from Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary.

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Hanging on!

2014-09-28 (574)
Sociable Weaver nests are often built on telephone poles, and these nests may enclose the telephone wires coming to the pole. In very windy areas, parts of the nest may become detached and appear to "float" in the air! These nest masses probably move a lot when it is windy, but the weavers may continue to breed in the nests, at least for a while.

phown 11306
Sociable Weaver,
photo: John Smith
phown 11810
Sociable Weaver,
photo: Francois van der Merwe
phown 11821
Sociable Weaver,
photo: Dieter Oschadleus
phown 13363
Sociable Weaver,
photo: Nellie Spangenberg

Weaver Wednesday - Discovery [119]: Black-throated Weaver

2014-09-24 (573)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Black-throated Weaver Ploceus benghalensis

Black-throated Weaver
First pic of Black-throated Weaver,
from Albin 1738
Black-throated Weaver
2nd pic of Black-throated Weaver,
from Edwards 1751
Black-throated Weaver map
Black-throated Weaver distribution,
type locality circled


Linnaeus based his species description on the publications of Eleazar Albin and George Edwards. Both Albin and Edwards based their illustrations of this species on birds in the collection of Mr Joseph Dandridge, an English entomologist.

Albin, an English naturalist and water-colour illustrator, included a short text and copper plate engraving illustrations in his book "A natural history of birds", and Vol 2 contained the Black-throated Weaver. Albin listed the two birds as a pair but they actually represent males, although they are poor illustrations. Albin called the birds Passer bengalensis (Bengale Sparrow), and Linnaeus used this name, although placing the bird in the genus Loxia.

Edwards published his own version of the birds 13 years later, and provided a metal engraving which was a more accurate illustration of the species, indicating that he probably saw the Dandridge collection. Edwards called it the Yellow-headed Indian Sparrow.

Scientific citation

Loxia benghalensis Linnaeus 1758 Syst. Nat., ed. 10, p175 Benghala

Meaning of names

benghalensis (Latin) - After the states of East (Bangladesh) and West Bengal, India. Historically Bengal (native name Bangala) comprised the greater part of northern India.

Alternate names

Black-breasted Weaver, Bengal Weaver


Unknown, sent to Mr Joseph Dandridge in England.

Date collected

Before 1738, when Albin published his painting.

Locality collected

Bengal, or Bay of Bengal.

Type specimens

No type specimens known to survive, but the paintings of Albin and Edwards serve as types.

PAPER: Nest luminosity in Southern Red Bishops

2014-09-22 (572)
Honza M, Sulc M, Cherry MI. 2014. Does nest luminosity play a role in recognition of parasitic eggs in domed nests? A case study of the red bishop. Naturwissenschaften online.

Southern Red Bishop nest
Southern Red Bishop nest
Abstract. Certain light environments may hinder egg discrimination by hosts of foreign eggs, which could in some circumstances lead to the acceptance of non-mimetic eggs by hosts. We measured light parameters at red bishop (Euplectes orix) nests and used a model of avian visual processing to quantify the detectability of eggs in the light environment in which they are perceived. We found that the overall amount of light was very variable between red bishop nests and always sufficient for colour discrimination. A model of avian visual processing revealed that nest luminosity had no influence on host responses towards eggs which were painted dark brown. Dark eggs do not appear to be cryptic in red bishop nests and can be distinguished with ease, whereas natural red bishop eggs are usually accepted, despite the domed structure of the nest. We found little variation in both chromatic and achromatic contrasts between host and artificial eggs, indicating that there was very little variation in the light quality inside nests. We suggest that nest luminosity is likely to play a role in egg recognition in situations when light reaches threshold values for colour discrimination, i.e. in scotopic as opposed to photopic vision. Rejection rates for dark eggs were higher than for bright (conspecific) foreign eggs. More investigation of domed nest-building species is required, as this type of nest appears to have a highly variable light environment, dependent on both nest structure and habitat.

This study was conducted in a 20-km radius of Durbanville, Western Cape. During September 2010 the authors collected eggs from abandoned nests and parasitized 19 active nests, to assess rejection behaviour towards conspecific parasitic eggs. In September 2012, the authors parasitized 32 nests with Southern Red Bishop eggs painted a dark brown colour (to make them cryptic), to test whether the light environment inside nests influence host reactions to parasitic eggs.

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items
All news items
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