Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [207] - Discovery [90]: Brown-capped Weaver

2016-06-01 (720)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis

Brown-capped Weaver
Brown-capped Weaver female,
figure from Sharpe (1891)
Brown-capped Weaver
Brown-capped Weaver male,
figure from Sjostedt (1895)
Brown-capped Weaver map
Brown-capped Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Brown-capped Weaver was formally described by Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English zoologist and ornithologist who worked as curator of the bird collection at the British Museum of natural history.

The Brown-capped Weaver was collected by Frederick John Jackson, an English administrator, explorer and ornithologist.

In 1889 Jackson led an expedition designed to open up the regions between Mombasa and Lake Victoria, which was largely unknown to Europeans at that time, and if possible to obtain news of Emin Pasha. He travelled to Lake Victoria and then went north and east to tarvel around the lake to Mt Elgon. Mount Elgon is an extinct shield volcano on the border of Uganda and Kenya, and the mountain's highest point, named "Wagagai", is located within the country of Uganda.

Jackson went further north past Mt Elgon on the eastern (Kenyan) side but had to return when he encountered hostile tribes. He used the opportunity to climb Mt Elgon (from the north side) and collect new bird species. He reached the crater at the top on 17 Feb 1890, and camped there for the night. While on the slopes of Mt Elgon, he collected the female of the Brown-capped Weaver.

The collection was sent to Sharpe, who wrote up several new species. He named this weaver "insignis" (ie notable) as the plain yellow back was unlike the back colour of any other weaver he knew.

The first illustration of the Brown-capped Weaver was the female type specimen, published by Sharpe (1891). The next illustration was of an adult male in Sjostedt (1895), considered to be a new species at the time.

Scientific citation

Sycobrotus insignis Sharpe 1891b, Ibis, p.117, pl. 6, fig. 1, Mt. Elgon, Uganda.

Meaning of names

insignis, Latin: notable, extraordinary, remarkable.

First English name

Yellow-bodied Black-winged Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Cameroon Brown-capped Weaver, Chestnut-capped Weaver, Chestnut-headed Yellow-backed Weaver, Congo Brown-capped Weaver, Nairobi Brown-capped Weaver, Yellow-bodied Black-winged Weaver.


Frederick John Jackson.

Date collected

Feb 1890.

Locality collected

Mt. Elgon, Uganda.

Type specimens

The type is in the Bristish Museum (BM 1893.12.1.6).