Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [210] - Discovery [93]: Bertram's Weaver

2016-06-22 (727)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Bertram's Weaver Ploceus bertrandi

Bertram's Weaver
Bertram's Weaver male & juvenile,
figure from Shelley (1893)
Bertram's Weaver
Bertram's Weaver female,
figure from Shelley (1905)
Bertram's Weaver map
Bertram's Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


Bertram's Weaver was formally described by George Ernest Shelley, an English geologist and ornithologist.

Bertram's Weaver was collected by Alexander Whyte, a Scottish botanist.

Commissioner HH Johnston hired Alexander Whyte to collect fauna and flora specimens in British Central Africa. Bertram Lutley Sclater, the son of the ornithologist Dr. P. L. Sclater, and Commander of the Police Force of British Central Africa 1891-93, accompanied the expedition as security.

Whyte collected birds in 3 localities in southern Malawi in 1891. On 29 May they ascended Mt Zomba, then collected specimens here during Aug-Sep, including two Bertram's Weaver specimens. On 20 Oct the expedition visited Mt Milanji spending 2 weeks on the plateau, collecting one Bertram's Weaver specimen.

Whyte also collected several female Bertram's Weaver specimens in southern Malawi during 1892. These were also investigated by Shelley (in 1894) who described them as males of a separate species. A few decades later, Neunzig 1924a realised that these were the female of Bertram's Weaver, based on a large sample of specimens of both taxa in the Berlin Museum.

Shelley named Bertram's Weaver after Bertram Lutley Sclater, but the scientific name was given as bertrandi rather than as bertrami.

The first illustration of Bertram's Weaver was of a male and juvenile, published by Shelley (1893) in his initial description of the species. The next illustration was of the female of this species in Shelley (1905), initially thought to be the male of a different species.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis bertrandi Shelley 1893a, Ibis, p.23, pl. 2, Plains near Milanji, southern Nyasaland [Zomba].

Meaning of names

bertrandi, Named after Captain Bertrand L. Sclater (1866-1897).

First English name

Nyasa Black-beaded Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Bertrand's Weaver, Bertrand's Masked-Weaver, Nyasa Black-beaded Weaver.


Alexander Whyte.

Date collected

Aug, Sep, Oct 1891.

Locality collected

Milanji (Mount Mulanje) and Zomba, Malawi.

Type specimens

Three syntype are in the British Museum (eg BM 1892.9.10.181).