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
Vitelline Masked Weaver

PHOWN:
Accepted: 26669
(Uploaded: 26676)

Total nests counted: 7980690

Latest weaver reference: BOOK CHAPTER: Significance of weavers

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
18 Apr 1908, Malimbus nitens microrhynchus , Blue-billed Malimbe

Latest weaver news

Weaver species that feed on nectar

2015-04-16 (633)
Village Weaver
Village Weaver,
feeding on nectar of Erythrina

Many weavers are generalist nectar-feeders but are now considered to be the major pollinators of aloes (see Cape Weaver). The fodies all feed on nectar, and the Rodrigues Fody even has a brush-tipped tongue that is adapted to nectarivory. Three species were reported as feeding on nectar for the first time as recently as 2014, namely the Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, White-browed Sparrow-weaver, and Red-billed Quelea (see news about paper). Some publications list the Chestnut Weaver as feeding on nectar but this is an error, and the food plants listed do not even occur in the range of the Chestnut Weaver (see news about paper). The nectar of Aloe marlothii attracts more bird species than any other plant thus far recorded, and this seems to be true in the case of the weavers too, with 14 weaver species being recorded (Oschadleus 2014). One Asian weaver, the Baya Weaver, is known to feed on nectar.

The list below shows weavers that have been recorded as feeding on nectar, but many more weavers are likely to do so. The categories are based on number of literature references, as a proxy for frequency.

Red-headed Weaver
Red-headed Weaver, feeds on Schotia nectar
(see news about paper)
Photo by K Yoganand

Weavers that feed on nectar regularly
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis
Aldabra Fody Foudia aldabrana
Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis
Eastern Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus
Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor
Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra
Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht
Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans

Mountain Aloe
Mountain Aloe Aloe marlothii

Weavers that feed on nectar occasionally
Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps
Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons
Southern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus xanthopterus
Forest Fody Foudia omissa
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis
Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix
White-browed Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali
Bertram's Weaver Ploceus bertrandi
Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
Cardinal Quelea Quelea cardinalis
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus
Sao Tome Weaver Ploceus sanctithomae
Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus
Maxwell's Black Weaver Ploceus albinucha
Principe Golden Weaver Ploceus princeps
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus

Weavers with single records of nectar feeding
Sakalava Weaver Ploceus sakalava
Red-vented Malimbe Malimbus scutatus
Ruppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula
Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis
Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor
Red-headed Fody Foudia eminentissima

Weaver Wednesday [148] - Discovery [31]: Vitelline Masked Weaver

2015-04-15 (632)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus

Vitelline Masked Weaver
Vitelline Masked Weaver
(as Ploceus sublarvatus),
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Vitelline Masked Weaver
(as Ploceus vitellinus),
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Vitelline Masked Weaver
type specimen (ZMB_7298)
Vitelline Masked Weaver map
Vitelline Masked Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Vitelline Masked Weaver was formally described by Martin Lichtenstein, a German physician and explorer, who was appointed as director of the Berlin Zoological Museum from 1813.

Lichtenstein wrote a brief description in Latin for the Vitelline Masked Weaver, and noted its origin as Senegambia. He did not mention the collector, but two type specimens are in the Berlin Museum of Natural History, and the labels list Delbruck, a German collector. Lichtenstein listed 3 specimens, but one was sold to (or exchanged with) the museum in Vienna (Pelzeln 1887). Although Lichtenstein often sold or exchanged duplicate specimens before adequately describing them, he made the Berlin Museum one of the most active ornithological research centres in Europe.

The first illustration of a Vitelline Masked Weaver is a colour painting by Muller 1854 (but I do not have a copy of this). The next illustration is a set of birds painted in colour by Reichenbach (1863).

Scientific citation

Fringilla vitellina Lichtenstein 1823 Verz. Doubl., p.23 Senegambia.

Meaning of names

vitellinus Med. Latin: vitellinus, a deep yellow colour tinged red (Latin: vitellus, egg-yolk).

First English name

Rufous crowned Weaver (Swainson 1837), referring to the orange tinge on the crown.

Alternate names

Black-faced Weaver, Kenya Vitelline Masked Weaver, Rufous crowned Weaver.

Collector

Delbruck.

Date collected

Before 1823.

Locality collected

Senegambia.

Type specimens

Two syntypes are in the Berlin Museum and one in the Vienna Museum.

PAPER (ecology): Frogs in weaver nests

2015-04-14 (631)
Oschadleus HD 2015 Weaver nests as a resting site for frogs. Herpetology Notes 8:129-131.

figure
3 frogs in entrance of
Eastern Golden Weaver nest
Abstract. Reed frogs Hyperolius spp. and leaf-folding frogs Afrixalus spp. were recorded as resting in weaver bird nests in the daytime, from two sites in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A Painted Reed Frog Hyperolius marmoratus taeniatus was found in a Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus nest over a stream in 2004. Thirteen individuals of three frog species (Afrixalus spinifrons, Hyperolius marmoratus marmoratus, Afrixalus fornasinii) were found in the nests of a large mixed-species weaver colony in a wetland in 2009.


Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items

Weaver Wednesday [147] - Discovery [30]: Streaked Weaver

2015-04-08 (630)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar

Streaked Weaver
Streaked Weaver bill,
figure from Swainson 1838
Streaked Weaver,
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Streaked Weaver map
Streaked Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Streaked Weaver was formally described by Thomas Horsfield, an American physician and naturalist. Horsfield lived and worked on Java Island in Indonesia from 1811-17. Horsfield began to collect plants and animals on behalf of the governor and friend Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. In 1816 Java was restored to the Dutch and Horsfield moved east to Sumatra.

In 1819 Horsfield left Sumatra due to ill health and returned to London. On returning to London, Horsfield continued to be in contact with Sir Stamford Raffles and became a keeper of the museum of the East India Company. He stayed in this position, later as a curator, until his death in 1859. Ultimately the Museum was overwhelmed with collections, and much of the material had to be distributed to other museums, scientific societies. One specimen of the Streaked Weaver is still in the British museum at Tring, but there are probably 3 more type specimens.

The first illustration of a Streaked Weaver is a line drawing of the head and bill in Swainson 1838. The next illustration is a set of birds painted in colour by Reichenbach (1863).

Scientific citation

Fringilla manyar Horsfield 1821 Trans. Linn. Soc. London, 13, p.160 Java.

Meaning of names

manyar Tamil (Sri Lankan) name manja for various weaverbirds.

First English name

Brahminee Baya (Jerdon 1845). In 1840, Jerdon had applied this name to the Bengal Weaver, but then realised that it should apply to this species.

Alternate names

Brahminee Baya, Burmese Streaked Weaver Bird, Indian Streaked Weaver Bird, Javan Weaver, Manyar Weaver, Striated Weaver.

Collector

Horsfield.

Date collected

Between 1811-17 when Horsfield was collecting on Java.

Locality collected

Java.

Type specimens

At least one syntype is in the British Museum (BM 1880.1.1.4730).

Weaver Wednesday [146] - Discovery [29]: Southern Masked Weaver

2015-04-01 (629)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus

Southern Masked Weaver
Southern Masked Weaver,
figure from Smith 1845
Southern Masked Weaver,
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Southern Masked Weaver,
type specimen in Leiden
Southern Masked Weaver map
Southern Masked Weaver
distribution, type locality circled;
yellow shows modern range expansion

Introduction

The Southern Masked Weaver was formally described by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist. The Southern Masked Weaver was first collected by Francois Le Vaillant, who travelled in South Africa in 1781-84. When Le Vaillant returned to Europe, most of his specimens where sold or given to Coenraad Jacob Temminck, who had sponsored Le Vaillant's travels. Temminck produced a catalogue of these birds in 1807 and briefly described the Southern Masked Weaver, without providing a scientific name, but calling it "Le troupial a masque-noir" (The oriole with a black mask). He noted that it came from "Namaquois" (Namaqualand). However, several specimens that Le Vaillant listed as from Namaqualand are actually from the Karoo, and Brooke (1985) restricted the type locality of the Southern Masked Weaver to Graaff-Reinet - earlier authors had restricted the type locality to other sites that were found to be incorrect. Le Vaillant reached the Eastern Cape in 1782, and passed through the Karoo in early 1783 on his return to Cape Town.

Vieillot based many of his descriptions on the work of Temminck 1807, but included a scientific name.

The Southern Masked Weaver was first illustrated in 1828 in Andrew Smith's description of the species. Smith illustrated only non-breeding birds, and the first male in breeding plumage to be painted was by Reichenbach (1863).

Scientific citation

Ploceus velatus Vieillot 1819 Nouv. Dict. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., 34:132 Namaqualand, restricted to Graaff-Reinet, E Cape, by Brooke, 1985, Ostrich 56, 214-215.

Meaning of names

velatus Latin: veiled, covered (velare, to cover) [referring to the mask of the breeding male].

First English name

Masked weaver bird (Smith 1828).

Alternate names

African Masked Weaver, Black-fronted Weaver, Capricorn Weaver-bird, Greater Masked Weaver, Half-masked Weaver, Lichtenstein's Weaver bird, Mariqua Weaver bird, Masked Weaver, Namaqua Masked Weaver, Shelley's Weaver Bird, Yellow Masked Weaver, Zambesi Masked Weaver.

Collector

Le Vaillant.

Date collected

Feb-March 1783, when Le Vaillant was in the Karoo.

Locality collected

Namaqualand, restricted to Graaff-Reinet.

Type specimens

Two type specimens are in the Leiden Museum (RMNH_90372 and RMNH_90373).
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