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Weaver Wednesday [186] - Discovery [69]: Southern Brown-throated Weaver

2016-01-06 (691)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Southern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus xanthopterus

Southern Brown-throated Weaver
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
(S Masked Weaver in front)
figure from Cabanis (1884)
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
head of male,
figure from Sharpe (1890)
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
John Kirk, collector of
Southern Brown-throated Weaver,
figure from wikipedia
Southern Brown-throated Weaver map
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Southern Brown-throated Weaver was formally described by 2 authors: Karel Johan Gustav Hartlaub, a German physician and ornithologist, and Friedrich Hermann Otto Finsch, a German naturalist and colonial explorer.

The description was published in a book about birds collected on Baron Carl Klaus von der Decken's travels in east Africa, but the book included birds from other collections, including the Southern Brown-throated Weaver.

The Southern Brown-throated Weaver was collected by Sir John Kirk, a Scottish physician and naturalist.

Kirk was part of David Livingstone's Zambesi expedition from 1858 to 1864, travelling from the mouth of the Zambesi upstream, and also exploring the Shire River, a northern tributary of the Zambesi.

On a return from Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi), the expedition boat was stuck in the Elephant Marsh on the Shire River during Nov-Dec 1861. Kirk collected the Southern Brown-throated Weaver while stranded here. When the rains came, the river started to rise and the expedition coninued, reaching the Mozambican coast in early Jan 1862.

Kirk also collected many other birds and mammals along the Zambesi on this expedition, and sent most of these specimens to the British Museum.

The first illustration of the Southern Brown-throated Weaver was of an adult male by Cabanis (1884). This was followed by a colour painting, of the head of a male, by Sharpe (1890).

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis xanthopterus Hartlaub & Finsch 1870 Vog. Ost. Afr. p.399 Shire Valley, Nyasaland.

Meaning of names

xanthopterus, Greek: xanthos, yellow; -pteros, winged.

First English name

Yellow-winged Weaver Bird (Layard 1884).

Alternate names

Brown-throated Golden Weaver, Golden Weaver, Zambezi Brown-throated Weaver.


Sir John Kirk.

Date collected

Dec 1861.

Locality collected

Shire Valley = Elephant Marsh, Malawi.

Type specimens

There is a type specimen in the British Museum (BM 1863.12.30.7).