Weaver species

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Taveta Golden Weaver Ploceus castaneiceps

IUCN: Least concern     Discovery: 089

Categories: golden, wetland,
News items about species


Taveta Golden Weaver
Taveta Golden Weaver (circled),
figure from Sharpe (1890)
Taveta Golden Weaver
Taveta Golden Weaver,
figure from Reichenow (1902)
Taveta Golden Weaver map
Taveta Golden Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Taveta Golden 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 Taveta Golden Weaver was collected by HCV Hunter, an English zoologist and hunter who is better known for discovering and collecting the Critically Endangered antelope, the Hirola or "Hunter's antelope", in 1888 along the Tana River in Kenya.

Hunter collected the Taveta Golden Weaver along the Useri River (Shelley 1905b) near Taveta. Hunter collected a large number of birds in the Mt Kilimanjaro area in June to August 1888. The collection was written up in 1889 by Shelley, who described several new species. However, he listed the weaver as an Eastern Golden Weaver and it was only in 1890 that Sharpe realised that Hunter's weaver was a new species.

The first illustration of the Taveta Golden Weaver was of the head of the type specimen, published by Sharpe (1890) with the heads of similar species. The next illustration was of an adult male in Reichenow (1902), considered to be a new subspecies at the time.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis castaneiceps Sharpe 1890, Cat. Birds. Brit. Mus., 13, p.448 Taveta, Kenya.

Meaning of names

castaneiceps, Latin: castaneus, chestnut-coloured; -ceps, capped, crowned.

First English name

Rufous-crowned Golden Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Brown-naped Golden Weaver, Rufous-crowned Golden Weaver, Taveta Weaver.


HCV Hunter.

Date collected

July 1888.

Locality collected

Useri River, Taveta, Kenya.

Type specimens

The type is in the Bristish Museum (BM 1889.3.21.71).

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday 2, a weekly series about the discovery of each weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [206] - Discovery [89]: Taveta Golden Weaver on 2016-05-25

1. Basic biology

Taveta Golden Weaver
Taveta Golden Weaver, adult male
Taveta Golden Weaver
Taveta Golden Weaver, adult female
Identification. The Taveta Golden Weaver is a bright yellow weaver with a very restricted range in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. The male is golden yellow, with chestnut crown ending in sharply defined crescent on nape, and chestnut band on breast. The female is yellow without orange and has a heavily streaked back and 2-tone bill (dark above, yellowish below). The juvenile is browner above and buffy below. In captive birds, male nestlings on day 14 were heavier than female nestlings, with little overlap, but sample sizes were small (7 males, 13 females - see Sex of Taveta Golden Weaver chicks).

Taveta Golden Weaver map

More measurements are needed for this species - a sample of 7 males ringed near Arusha had larger wing and tail and shorter bills than the measurements provided for 8 males (possibly museum specimans) in Birds of Africa). It was first collected near the town Taveta, giving rise to its English name.

Distribution. In Kenya, the The Taveta Golden Weaver is found in the Amboseli and Taveta areas, and Lake Jipe. In Tanzania, it occurs along the Pangani River, around Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro (see map right, based on Birds of Africa). No subspecies of the Taveta Golden Weaver are recognised, although one other has been proposed. It is common but very local.

Habitat. The Taveta Golden Weaver inhabits woodland and dry bush country, and moves into swampy lowlands to breed.

Food. The diet of the The Taveta Golden Weaver is seeds, including grass seeds, and maize, and ants have been recorded.

Taveta Golden Weaver
Taveta Golden Weaver, male in colony

Breeding. The Taveta Golden Weaver is probably polygynous. It breeds in colonies in swampy or flooded areas. Breeding areas may be deserted suddenly and completely, for weeks or months at a time. It is not clear if this follows a regular pattern in Tanzania.

The nest is spherical or ovoid with no entrance tube but a slight porch. The nest is woven of strips of reed leaf-blades. Nests are usually suspended over water in reedbeds or bulrushes, and sometimes in low trees overhanging water. It sometimes nests is association with other weavers.

The eggs are olive green with fine darker flecks. Not much more is known about breeding.

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [36]: Taveta Golden Weaver on 2013-02-20

2. Breeding facts

Pair bond
presumed polygnous
Breeding season
Oct-May in Kenya, and Sept-Jan and Apr-May in Tanzania
Nest site
suspended over water in reeds, bulrushes (Typha) or overhanging tree
Nest building
No information
Colony size
Clutch size
3 eggs
Egg colour
olive green with fine darker flecks
Egg size
one measured 23 x 16 mm
in captivity, incubation period 13 days
Chicks and nestling period
in captivity, nestling period 16 days

Breeding information based on Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 15.

3. Photos of Weaver Nests

Vm 30868

Vm 19097

Vm 13810

Vm 3483

Vm 997

Thumb-nails of most recent PHOWN records - click on one to see its full record
See all PHOWN records for this species here.

PHOWN (Photos of Weaver Nests) provides valuable info on breeding distribution and colony sizes of weavers.
You can contribute by registering and submitting photos at Virtual Museum webpage.

4. Breeding distribution

Google map showing distribution (For species with small ranges you need to zoom in at the correct area to see the range):
yellow blob - range of weaver species; read more about this here.
- PHOWN records with photos
- PHOWN records with no photos (Nest Record Cards, other records)
- Birdpix records
- comments on out of range records, or interesting records
- type locality
CLICK on the marker on the map to see individual record details.

5. Range changes

Not South African species

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday 3, a weekly series about range changes in South African weaver species.
This species text first appeared as n/a