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Golden-backed Weaver Ploceus jacksoniIUCN: Least concern Discovery: 087
IntroductionThe Golden-backed Weaver was formally described by George Ernest Shelley, an English geologist and ornithologist.
The Golden-backed Weaver was collected by Frederick John Jackson, an English administrator, explorer and ornithologist.
Jackson arrived in Kenya in December 1884, where he undertook several hunting and collecting trips. In mid 1886 he decided to go to Kilimanjaro for a few months to hunt and collect specimens. While based near Mount Kilimanjaro a new species was brought to him, which was sent to England where Shelley described it as the Golden-backed Weaver.
Jackson wrote the following about how he obtained the specimen: "Little credit is due to me for having brought this new species to light, as the specimen was brought to me by a little Taveita boy, tied by the legs along with several others of the common yellow species, and was the only one that I kept, as all the rest had had their tails pulled out."
The first illustration of the Golden-backed Weaver was of the male type specimen, published by Shelley (1888). The next illustrations to be published were 6 decades later: colour paintings of the male and female in Mackworth (1955).
Scientific citationPloceus jacksoni Shelley 1888, Ibis, 1888, p.293 Kilimanjaro = Taveta, Kenya.
Meaning of namesjacksoni, Named after Sir Frederick Jackson (1860-1929) Governor of Uganda, 1911-1917, naturalist, collector, and author.
First English nameJackson's Golden-backed Weaver (Shelley 1905).
Alternate namesGolden-back Weaver,
Jackson's Golden-backed Weaver,
Jackson's Yellow-backed Black-headed Weaver.
CollectorFrederick John Jackson.
Locality collectedNear Taveta, Kenya.
Type specimensThe type is in the British Museum (BM 18220.127.116.11).
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  - Discovery : Golden-backed Weaver on 2016-05-11
1. Basic biology
The Golden-backed Weaver is a common weaver in East Africa. The male in breeding plumage has a black head, and chestnut and yellow underparts. The Black-headed (or Yellow-backed) Weaver male is similar and overlaps in range, especially around Lake Victoria. The Golden-backed Weaver can be distinguished by its red eye and yellow back (the Black-headed has a brown eye and brown back with a yellow nape band).
The female and non-breeding male Golden-backed Weaver are olive above and yellow below, with a reddish eye. Some interesting photos of these birds in moult may be seen here.
Distribution. The Golden-backed Weaver is found in Uganda, SE Burundi, W Kenya, and in N, E and central Tanzania; it is rare in South Sudan (see map right, based on Birds of Africa). No subspecies are recognised.
The Golden-backed Weaver has been introduced to the United Arab Emirates (since 1992), and Singapore (since at least 2011), probably due to escaped cage birds in each country.
Habitat. The Golden-backed Weaver inhabits mainly wetland areas like swamp, ambatch, reeds, papyrus, and along rivers, but also moves into acacia scrub and woodland. It shows irregular irruptive movements in response to heavy rainfall.
Food. The diet of the Golden-backed Weaver consists of seeds, and probably insects.
Breeding. The Golden-backed Weaver is polygynous and colonial, often nesting alongside other weavers. Its nest is oval, compact, woven of strips torn from grass or palm leaves, lined with grass tops and some feathers. There is no entrance tunnel. It is built over water in papyrus or reeds; also in acacia trees, ambatch bushes and in maize fields. The song at its colony includes a variety of harsh notes. 2-3 eggs are laid, which are blue, with purple-brown or dark red spots. There are several records of brood parasitism by the Diederik Cuckoo. The Swamp Flycatcher uses old nests of this weaver to nest in.
The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday : Golden-backed Weaver on 2013-05-08
2. Breeding facts
Feb-Jun and Oct-Dec (peak of laying Apr-May) in Uganda, Mar-Jun in Kenya, and Sept and Nov-Jun in Tanzania
usually over water in papyrus or reeds, sometimes in tree, ambatch or even maize (Zea mays) field
blue with purplish-brown or dark red spots, often very fine and dense
average size 20.6 x 14.3 mm (Uganda)
Chicks and nestling period
Breeding information based on Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 15.
3. Photos of Weaver Nests
Thumb-nails of most recent PHOWN records - click on one to see its full record
See all PHOWN records for this species here.
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 changesStill coming
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 Still coming