Weaver news

BOOKS: Priest's eggs of Southern African birds

2012-09-17 (267)

1. Priest CD. 1948. Eggs of birds breeding in southern Africa. University Press, Glasgow
2. Winterbottom JM. 1971. Priest's eggs of southern African birds. Winchester Press, Johannesburg

The earliest text on the eggs of southern African birds was published as early as 1948, a few years after the first edition of Roberts was published. The author Cecil Priest also wrote about the birds of Southern Rhodesia. His book on eggs includes brief notes on 670 species. The notes describe the nest, clutch size, egg colours, mean egg size, incubation period and breeding season. Not all eggs are illustrated, but 20 colour plates depict over 430 eggs.

Figure (right): lower half of plate 19 from Priest, showing some weaver eggs as listed below:
589 Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver
590+1 White-browed Sparrow-weaver
592 Sociable Weaver
593-7 sparrows
598 Scaly-feathered Finch
599 Dark-backed Weaver
600 Southern Masked Weaver
601 Lesser Masked Weaver
602+3 Village Weaver
604 Spectacled Weaver
605+6 Cape Weaver
607 Holub's Golden Weaver
608 Thick-billed Weaver
609 Red-headed Weaver
610 Red-billed Quelea
611 Cardinal Quelea

Weavers not listed in Priest's book are Yellow (Eastern Golden) Weaver, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Chestnut Weaver, Olive-headed Weaver, and Red-headed Quelea.

Jack Winterbottom revised the book two decades later. He rewrote the texts and included all southern African species known at the time, but Priest's plates were used without additional plates being added. The text gives the egg colours, clutch size, egg sizes (range and mean), nest and nest site, more detailed notes on breeding season, and incubation period. He used a new numbering system. The weavers omitted by Priest were all included by Winterbottom, as well as the Bar-winged Weaver which was thought (incorrectly) to occur in southern African at the time.

Figure (left): dust jacket of Winterbottom's revision of Priest's book.

Literature as featured in Weaver Watch news items