Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [171] - Discovery [54]: Red-headed Weaver

2015-09-23 (670)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps

Red-headed Weaver
Red-headed Weaver,
figure from Lafresnaye 1839
Red-headed Weaver
Red-headed Weaver,
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Red-headed Weaver
Red-headed Weaver,
figure from Elliot 1876
Red-headed Weaver map
Red-headed Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Red-headed Weaver was formally described by Carl Jakob Sundevall, a Swedish zoologist employed at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm. He described many new birds collected in southern Africa by Johan August Wahlberg and sent to the Swedish Museum.

The Red-headed Weaver was collected by Johan August Wahlberg, a Swedish naturalist and explorer. Wahlberg collected at least 5 specimens of the Red-headed Weaver in Oct-Nov 1843 while hunting for big game around Mohapoani - these mountains are now known as the Witfonteinrant Mountains, SW of Thabazimbi in Limpopo Province.

Wahlberg travelled in southern Africa between 1838 and 1856, sending thousands of natural history specimens back to Sweden, and several birds and animals were named after him. He was killed by an elephant he wounded while exploring the Okavango area in Botswana.

Wahlberg did not collect the first Red-headed Weaver specimens. Two specimens were collected in Senegal by an unknown collector by 1839 and sent to paris where they were described as a new species by Frederic de Lafresnaye in 1839. The name used was invalid, however, and thus Ploceus melanotis became a subspecies. Read more here.

The first illustration of a Red-headed Weaver is by Lafresnaye 1839, followed by a colour painting published by Reichenbach 1863 - these both featured the northern subspecies, thought to be the nominate form at the time. The first illustration of the southern African race was published in Elliot (1876).

Scientific citation

Ploceus (Hyphantornis) rubriceps Sundevall 1850 Oefv. K. Sv. Vet.-Akad. Forhandl., vol. vii, p.97 'Caffraria superiore'; type from Mohapoani, Rustenberg district, W Transvaal (Gyldenstolpe, 1927, Ark. Zool. vol. 19A(1), p.12).

Meaning of names

rubriceps - Latin: ruber, red; -ceps, headed.

First English name

The black-eared Coucou-Weawer; The red-headed Coucou-Weawer (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Name Ayres's Weaver, Black-eared Scarlet Weaver, Gurney's Weaver Bird, Jubaland Anaplectes, Masked Red Weaver, Red Winged Anaplectes, Red winged Weaver, Scarlet-headed-Weaver, Yellow-winged Anaplectes.


Johan August Wahlberg.

Date collected

Oct-Nov 1843.

Locality collected

around Mohapoani = Witfonteinrant Mts, SW of Thabazimbi in Limpopo Province.

Type specimens

Three type specimens are in the Swedish Museum of Natural History and photos and details are on the web: NRM 568683, NRM 568684, and NRM 568685.
Two type specimens are in the Berlin Museum, ZMB_7281 and ZMB_7282.