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
Fan-tailed Widow on UCT Summer School banner

Accepted: 27404
(Uploaded: 27405)

Total nests counted: 8089402

Latest weaver links:
141 Red-billed Buffalo-weaver in flight
140 Weavers ringed in Entebbe
139 Baglafecht Weaver with grass seeds

Todays weaver type: (see more here)
13 Dec 1898, Hyphantornis lineolatus Sharpe MS , Vitelline Masked Weaver

Latest weaver news

Weaver Wednesday 4 [287] - Weaver themes [24]: Discovery of Weavers course - UCT Summer School

2017-12-13 (812)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Discovery of Weavers course - UCT Summer School

Fan-tailed Widow on UCT Summer School banner

Learn about the discovery of weavers - the species, and the people. The people include collectors (hunters, explorers, and naturalist scientists), authors, and artists.

Title: Weaver birds: from Linnaeus to the present (Course no. 1042)

Dates: 22-26 January 2018, 9h15-10h15 daily, at UCT Middle Campus, Rondebosch

This course will discuss the discovery of the weaverbirds, a family of about one hundred and twenty species found mainly in Africa. The weavers were formally described from 1758, but some were known about long before Linnaeus. An essential part of the discovery of weavers was the work of museum professionals who received a large influx of specimens that needed to be sorted and compared to other specimens and literature descriptions before new species could be described. By the early 1900s a large number of birds were still being described, however these were largely subspecies. Although the rate of new species descriptions slowed down in the twentieth century, new genetic techniques are resulting in new species being named, or in subspecies being upgraded to species level. While the focus of the course will be on weavers, much of the material is relevant to other birds.

1. Linnaeus to Levaillant: the early years
2. Smith and South Africa: the early 1800s
3. Collectors of curiosities: the late 1800s
4. Authors and illustrators
5. Name changers: the modern era

To register: UCT Summer School

Weaver Wednesday 4 [286] - Weaver themes [23]: Discovery overview - Extent of Occurrence

2017-12-06 (811)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Discovery overview - Extent of Occurrence

Weavers were described formally from 1758 onwards. The highest number of weaver species described per decade was in the 1880s (n=13) and 1890s (n=11). Some weavers have very large ranges, others very small. One would expect more widespread species to be discovered earlier. Plotting the range area (BirdLife International's Extent of Occurrence) versus year of publication does show a general trend of widespread species being described first, although throughout there were species with smaller ranges being discovered.

Interestingly, Linnaeus described species with a variety of Range areas - these species were already known before the formal start date of 1758.

Species on the outer edge of the graph - these are species with relatively wide ranges but were discovered later than expected, with notable examples being illustrated on the graph, ie. Thick-billed Weaver, Fan-tailed Widow, Red-headed Quelea, and Red Weaver. The latter was recently accepted as a new species by BirdLife International.

Species near the bottom axis of the graph are species with very small ranges, including island species. The weavers with small ranges and described earliest are Madagascar Fody and Cape Weaver. After 1920, all new weaver species have relatively small ranges, although none of these are island species

Data for Extent of Occurrence for weavers was obtained from:
BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/12/2017.

Year of Discovery by Extent of Occurrence

Weaver Wednesday 4 [285] - Weaver themes [22]: Update on Threatened weavers

2017-12-29 (810)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Update on Threatened weavers

BirdLife International is considering changing the threat categories of 2 weavers, for referral to the IUCN Red List.

Finn's Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus: Vulnerable - uplist to Endangered or Critically Endangered?

There is evidence of a drastic decline in part of its range, and info is needed on its status in other parts of its range. Read more at Forum.

Fox's Weaver Ploceus Ploceus spekeoides: Near threatened - uplist to Endangered?

This species has a small Area of Occupancy, and may be declining. There are few recent sightings, and thus it may need to be uplisted. Read more at Forum.

Species texts on the Weaver Watch web:
Finn's Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus
Fox's Weaver Ploceus spekeoides

Finn's Weaver
Finn's Weaver male & female,
figure from Finn (1901)
Fox's Weaver
Fox's Weaver

Weaver Wednesday 4 [284] - Weaver themes [21]: Genus Ploceus - 4. 'Nuthatch' weavers

2017-11-22 (809)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Nuthatch (bark-gleaning) weavers

These weavers do not form a taxonomic clade, but do from a specilaised ecological group. These insectivorous weavers probe and search the bark crevices of trunks and branches of forest trees for concealed insects, insect eggs, and larvae such as caterpillars, and arthropods. The weavers generally crawl upwards on trunks. This foraging behaviour resembles that of the nuthatches (family Sittidae). The weavers are not similar in appearance, only in their feeding habits.
Red-headed Malimbe

The Yellow-capped Weaver was initially considered to be a nuthatch weaver, but observations show that it feeds in forest foliage. Several malimbes also feed on branches, but usually glean leaves, and only the Red-headed Malimbe climbs up tree trunks. Forest loving weavers that glean from leaves are not included in this grouping.

Bark-gleaning specialists:
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis
Sao Tome Weaver Ploceus sanctithomae
Bar-winged Weaver Ploceus angolensis
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis
Preuss's Weaver Ploceus preussi
Olive-headed Weaver Ploceus olivaceiceps
Usambara Weaver Ploceus nicolli

Sao Tome Weaver
Bar-winged Weaver
Brown-capped Weaver
Preuss's Weaver
Olive-headed Weaver
Usambara Weaver

Weaver Wednesday 4 [283] - Weaver themes [20]: Genus Ploceus - 3. Baglafecht Weavers

2017-11-15 (808)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Genus Ploceus - 3. Baglafecht Weavers

There are 8 subspecies of the Baglafecht Weaver, which differ mainly in the colour of the male head and upperparts, and also in the existence or absence of seasonal plumage changes. Females and juveniles differ from the males.

Subspecies Head of male ID notes Seasonal plumage
baglafecht crown yellow,
nape olive
  Br + NBr
neumanni crown yellow,
nape olive
brighter green upperparts than nominate, paler yellow
forehead, more clearly defined white area on belly
Br + NBr
eremobius crown yellow,
nape olive
smaller than nominate, lower breast to undertail-coverts
Br + NBr
emini crown yellow,
nape black
male breeding has back black, some mantle and back feathers
with greyish or greenish edges, grey rump, golden-yellow chin
and breast, white belly to undertail-coverts, female breeding
has black forehead and crown
Br + NBr
reichenowi crown yellow,
nape black
male has yellow behind ear-coverts (leaving black patch
around eye), female has black crown and forehead continuous
with face mask, both have nape and upperparts black, some
yellow flecking on rump, iris creamy white to yellow
no change
stuhlmanni crown black,
nape black
black head blends into face mask, female has duller cap,
both have nape and upperparts yellowish-green, underparts
no change
sharpii crown black,
nape black
breeding male has greener upperparts and paler yellow
underparts than stuhlmanni
no change
nyikae crown black,
nape black
flanks, thighs, belly and undertail-coverts greyish Br + NBr

Br + NBr = breeding + non-breeding plumage

Links to species texts for the Baglafecht Weaver:
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht

Baglafecht Weaver subspecies.
Note: the ranges of subspecies in Ethiopia have been adjusted here, from the older map shown here. The update is based on Ash J & Atkins J (2009. Birds of Ethiopia and Eritrea. An atlas of distribution. Christopher Helm, London)
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