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
Baglafecht Weaver

Accepted: 27311
(Uploaded: 27311)

Total nests counted: 8088300

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)
21 Nov 1954, Ploceus velatus caurinus , Southern Masked Weaver

Latest weaver news

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)

Weaver Wednesday 4 [282] - Weaver themes [19]: Genus Ploceus - 2. Golden weavers

2017-11-08 (807)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Genus Ploceus - 2. 'Golden' weavers

6 weavers are in the tropical 'golden' weaver group, ie they are yellow or golden with varying amounts of orange, and no black or brown masks. The Cape and Bocage's Weavers are similar, and are thus added in the list below.

Links to species texts for the 'golden' weavers:
Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri
Taveta Golden Weaver Ploceus castaneiceps
Eastern Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus
Holub's Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
Orange Weaver Ploceus aurantius
Principe Golden Weaver Ploceus princeps
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
Bocage's Weaver Ploceus temporalis

The greatest overlap of these weaver species is in East Africa, with 3 species showing much overlap: Golden Palm Weaver, Taveta Golden Weaver, and Eastern Golden Weaver. These 3 species usually have small colonies. Golden Palm Weavers nest mostly in trees (especially palms), and Taveta Golden Weavers nest mostly in reeds (sometimes in trees low over water); Eastern Golden Weavers nest in a wide variety of sites, including trees and reeds, and sometimes have large colonies.
Adult male 'golden' weavers:

Golden Palm Weaver

Eye dark, extensive orange on head
Taveta Golden Weaver

Eye brown, orange crescent on head
Eastern Golden Weaver

Eye red, face orange

Adult female 'golden' weavers:

Golden Palm Weaver

Yellow below, back lightly streaked
Taveta Golden Weaver
from phown 3483
Yellow below, back heavily streaked
Eastern Golden Weaver

Eye reddish, belly white

Holub's Golden Weaver is easy to distinguish from these weavers by its heavy bill and pale eye, and has minimal overlap in range with the above 3 species.

The Orange Weaver occurs from West Africa to Lake Victoria, and overlaps with Holub's Golden Weaver, but not with the other weavers shown above.

The Principe Golden Weaver, Cape Weaver and Bocage's Weaver do not overlap with any other golden weaver.

There may be an unrecognised species in Tanzania, known locally as the Ruvu Weaver, to add to the difficulty of identification of the golden weavers in East Africa.

golden weavers map

Google Earth Map left, based on maps from Birds of Africa) for some East African golden weavers:
green - Golden Palm Weaver
red - Taveta Golden Weaver
yellow - Eastern Golden Weaver
blue - Holub's Golden Weaver

Note that Golden and Taveta Palm Weavers do not overlap in range, but both overlap with Eastern Golden Weaver.

Weaver Wednesday 4 [281] - Weaver themes [18]: Genus Ploceus - 1. Asian weavers

2017-11-01 (806)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Genus Ploceus - 1. Asian weavers

There are 5 Asian weaver species and they are all in the genus Ploceus. The Baya Weaver is the most widespread and common species. Two Asian weaver species have IUCN threat status as shown below. The Asian weavers are found in savanna, grassland and swampy areas - there are no Asian forest weaver species. The Asian weavers feed on seeds, insects and sometimes nectar. All five species lay plain white eggs.

Finn's Weaver (or Yellow Weaver) Ploceus megarhynchus - Vulnerable
Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus - Near Threatened
Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus - Least Concern
Black-throated Weaver (or Bengal Weaver) Ploceus benghalensis - Least Concern
Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar - Least Concern

Finn's Weaver
Asian Golden Weaver
Baya Weaver
Black-breasted Weaver
Streaked Weaver

Discovery of the Asian weavers

The 5 Asian weavers were described over 111 years, by 4 different authors, from 2 countries. To read more about the discovery of each of these species, click on the name.
Original name Author and year Type locality
Loxia benghalensis Linnaeus 1758 Bay of Bengal, India
Loxia philippina Linnaeus 1766 Pondicherry, India
Loxia hypoxantha Sparrman 1788 Sumatra, Indonesia
Fringilla Manyar Horsfield 1821 Java, Indonesia
Ploceus megarhynchus Hume 1869 "The Terai", Kaladingee, India

The first time each species was illustrated in western literature is shown below (for the Streaked Weaver there was an earlier line drawing of its head, but the first illustration of an adult is given here):

Black-throated Weaver
Black-throated Weaver,
from Albin 1738
Baya Weaver
Baya Weaver,
from Brisson 1760
Asian Golden Weaver
Asian Golden Weaver,
from Sparrman 1788
Streaked Weaver
Streaked Weaver,
from Reichenbach 1863
Finn's Weaver
Finn's Weaver,
from Finn (1901)

PHOtos of Weaver Nests in Asia

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 4 [280] - Weaver themes [17]: Genus Amblyospiza

2017-10-25 (805)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

Genus Amblyospiza

The Thick-billed Weaver is a unique weaver, placed in its own genus. Although a few early authors placed it in a variety of genera (eg. Pyrenestes or Coryphegnathus), for the last century it has consistently remained in Amblyospiza. The sexes are dissimilar. It is polygynous. The nest is woven with thin reed strips and plced between upright reeds. The nest is globe shaped with a side entrance near the top. The entrance is narrowed down in breeding nests. Thick-billed Weavers feed on insects, fruit and hard-shelled seeds. They breed in wetlands but forage in forest edges and gardens when not breeding.

Thick-billed Weaver
Thick-billed Weaver map of subspecies

Figures from: capitalba - Shelley 1905b; melanota - PHOWN 8334; montana - PHOWN 8334; unicolor - specimen ZMB_25661; albifrons - Smith 1840a.

Some subspecies differences in male plumages:

subspecies head upper under other
capitalba rufous-brown dark chocolate-brown grey-brown white forehead patch to crown; large contrasts
melanota dark brown black dark brown to grey dark head contrasts with black upperparts,
link between montana & unicolor
montana black black blackish very dark, nearly black
unicolor black but brown wash black-brown black-brown smaller, no obvious colour contrast
albifrons brown dark brown grey-brown  

There is less variation in female plumage, but generally they are paler in populations with rufous-headed males.

Read about the Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons

Weaver Wednesday 4 [279] - Weaver themes [16]: New weaver longevities

2017-10-18 (804)

Weaver Wednesday 4: Weaver themes (Series)

New weaver longevities

To see the greatest elasped times for southern African weavers, see here.

Red-billed Buffalo-weaver

This species is harder to catch than most weavers, and thus the longevity record was a mere 4 years (ring 5H17931). On 21 Oct 2006 Frik du Plooy ringed a Red-billed Buffalo-weaver at Wolfhuiskraal Farm, north of Pretoria, South Africa, as an adult female. Nine years later Frik was near the farm when he observed a Pearl-spotted owlet that caught this weaver. The new longevity record for this weaver is 9y 9m 25d (ring D55851).

Thick-billed Weaver

The longevity record was 10 years (ring 4H16349), for an adult female. On 18 Sept 1995 Susan Schoeman ringed a Thick-billed Weaver in Lydenburg, South Africa. The bird was sexed as an adult female but with mass 49g, indicating that it should have been listed as a male (and presumably an immature male, else it would have been listed as an adult male). Brian Jones found this bird dead 21 years later, near the aviary at the Moholoholo rehab centre, 76kms from the ringing site. A photo of the bird and ring were sent to SAFRING, confirming that the ring number was not misread. The photo also shows that the bird was an adult male.

The new longevity record for this weaver is 21y 6m 2d (ring 493950).

This is a new world record for any weaver in the wild, increasing the previous record by several years (16.5 years for a Seychelles Fody). There are several records of weavers exceeding 20 years in captivity.

Ring 493950
Ring 493950
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