Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [205] - Discovery [88]: Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver

2016-05-17 (718)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser rufoscapulatus

Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver,
figure from Buttikofer (1888)
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver,
figure from Chapin (1954)
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver map
Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver was formally described by Dr Johann Buttikofer, a Swiss zoologist. Buttikofer undertook two zoological expeditions to the Republic of Liberia, so he had some experience of African birds.

The Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver was collected by Pieter Jacob van der Kellen, a Dutch naturalist, collector and explorer in southern Angola, who was working for the Dutch Natural History Museum in Leiden. Van der Kellen took part in the Dutch Ethnographic Museum's South West Africa (=Angolan)expedition (1884-1885), and stayed on in Angola until 1888. His job was to act as a hunter and to search for and collect 'interesting' animals.

Van der Kellen visited the Kasinga River four times, the first two trips being in December 1886 and January 1887. It was only on the third visit (27 February - 11 March 1887) that he collected the Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver.

The first illustration of the Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-Weaver was of the male type specimen, published by Buttikofer (1888). The next illustration to be published was some 6 decades later in Chapin (1954).

Scientific citation

Plocepasser rufoscapulatus Buttikofer 1888, Notes Leyden Mus. 10, p.238, pl. 9 Kasinga River, southern Angola.

Meaning of names

rufoscapulatus, Latin: rufus, red; scapulae, the shoulders; -atus, possessing.

First English name

Red-backed Weaver Bird (Stark 1900).

Alternate names

Chestnut-backed Sparrow Weaver, Red-backed Weaver Bird, Red-mantled Sparrow-Weaver, Rufous-backed Sparrow Weaver.


Pieter Jacob van der Kellen.

Date collected

27 February 1887.

Locality collected

Kasinga River, Angola.

Type specimens

The type is in the Leiden Museum (RMNH_90361).