Weaver species

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Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht

IUCN: Least concern     Discovery: 023

Categories: acacias, fruit, gum, nectar, palm,
News items about species

Discovery

Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver,
figure from Ferret & Galinier 1848
Baglafecht Weaver
James Bruce, first mentioned
the Baglafecht Weaver,
figure from wikipedia
Baglafecht Weaver map
Baglafecht Weaver
distribution, type locality circled

Introduction

The Baglafecht Weaver was formally described by Francois Marie Daudin, a young French zoologist. For this species Daudin simply provided a scientific name for a bird described by Buffon.

The earliest reference to the Baglafecht Weaver is by Buffon in 1775, where he called it Le Baglafecht. Buffon provided a brief description of the species and noted that it came from Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

The Baglafecht Weaver was most probably noted by James Bruce, a Scottish traveller in North Africa and Ethiopia. Bruce travelled in Africa from 1768 to 1773, and later wrote some travel books. Bruce, and his assistant Luigi Balugani, painted over 300 plants, birds, and animals, but did not write much about the new fauna and flora he found. Murray, who wrote a biography on Bruce (1808), mentioned a painting of a bird called the yellow Bagla finch. Bruce met Buffon in France in 1773, and the painting by Bruce must have been the source for Buffon's description of the Baglafecht Weaver. Bruce was based mostly at Gondar, which is probably where he observed the Baglafecht Weaver.

Bruce's painting of the Baglafecht Weaver probably exists in a gallery, but it does not appear to have been published anywhere. The first published illustration of the Baglafecht Weaver appeared many decades after the bird was first described. Ferret and Galinier 1848 published several hand-coloured plates in their book on Ethiopia, including one of the Baglafecht Weaver.

Scientific citation

Loxia baglafecht Daudin 1802 In Buffon, Hist. Nat., ed. Lace'pe`de, Quad., 14, p.245 Abyssinia, ex idid., Oiseau Rev. Franc. Orn., 6, p.191.

Meaning of names

baglafecht Probably from a native Abyssinian (Amharic) name. Bruce refers to Bagla as a language or tribe. Buffon first used the name "baglafecht", and this must be based on his meeting with Bruce.

First English name

yellow Bagla finch (Bruce 1791)

Alternate names

Elgon Weaver, Emin's Weaver, Frick's Weaver, Golden-Crowned Weaver Bird, Lado Baglafecht Weaver, Neumann's Bagafecht Weaver, Reichenow's Weaver, Stuhlmann's Weaver, Uhehe Stuhlmann's Weaver.

Collector

James Bruce.

Date collected

1768-73, when Bruce was in Ethiopia.

Locality collected

Ethiopia, probably in Gondar.

Type specimens

Type specimen not traced.

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 [140] - Discovery [23]: Baglafecht Weaver on 2015-02-17

1. Basic biology

Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver,
female, P. b. reichenowi
Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver,
juvenile, P. b. reichenowi
Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver, male & female,
P. b. emini, figure from Hartlaub 1882
Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver, male,
P. b. stuhlmanni, figure from Reichenow 1902

Identification. The Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht has the widest plumage variation of any weaver species. All subspecies and sexes have a yellow eye and black face, and yellow or green wing edgings. Juveniles are generally duller versions of the female, and have dark eyes.

Distribution. The subspecies differ mainly in the colour of the male's head (yellow or black crown) and upperparts (green or black). Some subspecies have seasonal plumage changes. Eight subspecies of the Baglafecht Weaver are recognised (see map left, based on Birds of Africa): Baglafecht Weaver map
P. b. baglafecht occurs in Eritrea and the Ethiopian Highlands (see light green on map). The breeding male has a yellow crown, greenish upperparts, and yellow below with a whitish belly. The breeding female is like the male, but the crown is greenish, and the mask is dull black with a green wash. Non-breeding birds have ashy upperparts.
P. b. neumanni occurs in West Africa in Nigeria, Cameroon and Central African Republic (see yellow on map). It has brighter green upperparts than the nominate, a paler yellow forehead, and there is a non-breeding plumage.
P. b. eremobius occurs in Sudan and DRCongo (see purple on map). It is smaller than the nominate, with more white below, and there is a non-breeding plumage.
P. b. emini occurs in Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda (see light blue on map). The breeding male has a yellow crown, but nape is black, with a grey rump. The breeding female has a black crown, and both sexes have a non-breeding plumage.
P. b. stuhlmanni occurs in DRCongo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania (see orange on map). It has a black crown blending into the mask and the female has a duller cap. Both sexes have the nape and upperparts yellowish-green, and no seasonal change in plumage.

Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver nests

P. b. reichenowi occurs in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (see dark green on map). The male has a golden crown and yellow behind the ear-coverts, while the female has a black head. Both sexes have black upperparts, some yellow flecks on the rump, and no seasonal plumage change.
P. b. sharpii occurs in Tanzania (see grey on map). It resembles stuhlmanni, but the breeding male has greener upperparts and paler yellow underparts, with no seasonal change in plumage.
P. b. nyikae occurs on the Nyika Plateau in Zambia and Malawi (see pink on map). It is dark-capped, but the lower underparts are greyish, and there is a non-breeding plumage.

Habitat. The Baglafecht Weaver inhabits forest clearings and open vegetation outside of forest, including gardens in cities. It is often found in small parties, otherwise singly or in pairs, but never in large flocks.

Food. The Baglafecht Weaver feeds mainly on insects, and also on seeds and plant matter, including fruit. It feeds on nectar by dipping the bill into open flowers and swallowing droplets. The Baglafecht Weaver probes clusters of dry leaves, searching for insects, and gleans leaves and branches. The young are fed on spiders, moth larvae, grasshopper nymphs, small crickets, mantids, beetles, termite alates, and winged ants.

Baglafecht Weaver
Baglafecht Weaver adult building nest

Breeding. The Baglafecht Weaver is a monogamous, solitary nester. It is usually highly territorial, but sometimes two pairs nest in the same area. The nest is oval, without a spout, slightly flattened below, with the entrance well up one side, and an internal ledge to prevent eggs from falling out. The nest is thick-walled, and rather coarsely woven of strong strips of green grass blades or grass stems. The nest is lined by both sexes, using grass seedheads, feathers and plant down. The nest lining may project as a porch over the entrance. Nests are suspended below branches or palm fronds, and leaves are not stripped around nests, so that they are concealed. Successive nests may be built at the same site, so that several are present but only one is used for breeding, and the male may roost in an unlined nest.

The female incubates the eggs. Initially only the female feeds young, but from about the 4th day the male helps feed. Few predators have been recorded, but monkeys have been seen raiding nests (read here).

The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday [99]: Baglafecht Weaver on 2014-05-07

2. Breeding facts

Pair bond
Monogamous
Breeding season
Aug-Nov in Cameroon; in DRCongo, Mar-Jun in Kivu, May in Ituri and Aug-Oct in Uele; Jul and Nov in Sudan, Mar-Oct (possibly also Jan-Feb) in Ethiopia, Dec in Rwanda; in Uganda, Oct-May in Kampala area and reports in Aug and Jun-Jul on Mt Elgon; peak Apr-Jun (and in Nairobi area all months except Aug) in Kenya, and all months except Aug-Sept at Arusha in Tanzania; Oct-Dec in Zambia and Oct-Feb in Malawi
Nest site
1.8-10 m (mostly 3-6 m) above ground, suspended by grass stems looped around branch, or attached to banana leaves with supporting loops threaded through leaf blades, often in acacia (Acacia), sometimes in palm or even in exotic pine (Pinus) or eucalypt (Eucalyptus)
Nest building
woven by male, female may accompany male and help to select nest-site but does not contribute to building (although captive female did assist male at this stage); later nest lined by both male and female
Colony size
Solitary nester, usually highly territorial, but sometimes two pairs nest in same area; will build several nests at one site
Clutch size
1-3 eggs
Egg colour
of two types, blue-green and either plain or blotched with dark brown (especially at thicker end), or white to pinkish, evenly covered with reddish-brown spots and blotches
Egg size
average size of twelve eggs 21.2 x 15.1 mm (Ethiopia)
Incubation
incubation by female only, male often perched nearby, period 11-12 days, in estimated at 15 days
Chicks and nestling period
chicks initially fed by female alone, from fourth day also by male, period 15-17 days, in captivity 17-19 days

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

3. Photos of Weaver Nests


Vm 25061

Vm 19506

Vm 19502

Vm 19500

Vm 19498

Vm 19496

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

Still 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