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Eastern Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureusIUCN: Least concern Discovery: 042
IntroductionThe Eastern Golden Weaver was formally described by Sir Andrew Smith, a Scottish surgeon, naturalist, explorer and zoologist.
Smith lived in South Africa from 1821 to 1837, mainly in Grahamstown and Algoa Bay (i.e. Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape, and in Cape Town in the Western Cape (Kirby 1965). Smith's type-localities are often imprecise because he was more interested in describing ranges than providing formal type-localities. Smith collected ten specimens of the Eastern Golden Weaver 'in the neighbourhood of Algoa Bay'.
Smith formally described the Eastern Golden Weaver in 1839, but he refers to an earlier description by him, i.e. 'Ploceus subaureus Smith. Proceedings of South African Institution, April, 1832'. This reference has not been traced (Oschadleus 2007) but shows that he had collected at least one specimen of this species by 1832.
The first illustration of a Eastern Golden Weaver is a colour painting by George Henry Ford who painted for Smith. The next illustration is by Reichenbach (1863).
Scientific citationPloceus subaureus Smith 1839; Illustr. Zool. South Africa, Aves, pl. 30 (and text); Algoa Bay, eastern Cape.
Meaning of namessubaureus - Latin: sub-, underneath; aureus, golden.
First English nameThe yellow-golden Jaunisserin (Reichenbach 1863).
Alternate names(Red-eyed) Yellow Weaver, African Golden Weaver, Algoa-Bay Weaverbird, Bohndorff's Golden Weaver (for holoxanthus), Canary-coloured Weaver Bird, Golden Weaver, Mnana Golden Weaver, Olive-headed Golden Weaver, Smith's Golden Weaver, The brimstone coloured Jaunisserin, The yellow-golden Oriolin, Yellow Weaver
Date collectedBefore 1832.
Locality collectedAlgoa Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Type specimensOne specimen is known to be in the Bristish museum (BM 18188.8.131.52), but more types should still exist.
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 : Eastern Golden Weaver on 2015-07-01
1. Basic biology
Identification. The Eastern Golden Weaver is a yellow weaver. The male in breeding plumage has a black bill and red eye (above left). The female is duller yellow, has a horn to dark bill, and eye is brown or reddish brown (above middle). Read more about the variation in eye colour of this species and some other weavers in a pdf here (821 kB).
The Eastern Golden Weaver is also known as the African Golden Weaver or Yellow Weaver. The name has been confused with Holub's Golden Weaver P. xanthops but the scientific names prevent confusion.
Distribution. The Eastern Golden Weaver is common from Kenya to the Eastern Cape and as far inland as Malawi (see map left), based on Birds of Africa).
Two subspecies are currently recognised:
Habitat. The Eastern Golden Weaver inhabits coastal plains, river floodplains and lowland river valleys.
Food. The Eastern Golden Weaver feeds on seeds, including rice and millet, and also nectar and insects, especially termite alates. The young are fed mainly on insects. It forms large foraging flocks when not breeding.
Breeding. The Eastern Golden Weaver is colonial, with small territories, and is probably polygynous. The tightly-woven nest is oval to spherical, with the entrance below. The nest material consists of grass or reed strips.
The nest is lined with soft Eragrostris inflorescences, and rarely with a few feathers. The nest is attached to a single reed stem at the side, or supported by a reed on either side, sited 1-2 m above water, or is situated in trees at a much higher level. The reeds or branches above nests are often stripped of leaves. It may nest alongside other weaver species.
Nests were raided by African Fish Eagles Haliaeetus vocifer in Malawi. The Eastern Golden Weaver is an occasional host of the Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius.
Amazingly, one breeding colony in a wetland attracted a few different frog species as resting inside the weaver nests during the day (see news).
Of 13 birds recovered, 1 had moved 78 km, the others being within 10km of the ringing site. The oldest Eastern Golden Weaver to date was a female recaptured after 8 years 5 months (read more here).
The above is based on Weaver Wednesday, a weekly series about weaver species.
This species text first appeared as Weaver Wednesday : Eastern Golden Weaver on 2012-11-21
2. Breeding facts
Oct-Feb in Malawi; in Mozmbique, Apr in C region and Sept-Feb in S; Sept-Feb in South Africa
1-2 m above ground or water and often attached to a single reed stem on one side, sometimes supported by a reed on each side, or suspended from low bush, but on Zanzibar nests up to 9 m above ground in tall tamarind or coconut palm (Cocos nucifera)
Colonial; in reedbeds seldom more than 50 nests together, but 150 nests in tamarind tree (Tamarindus) on Zanzibar
2-3 eggs (South Africa)
plain white, creamy or pale blue, or marked with darker spots
average size of 53 eggs 23 x 15.1 mm (South Africa)
incubation by female, period not recorded
Chicks and nestling period
nestling period 19-22 days in captivity
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 changes
Range changes in SA
The points below match the points on the map above.
Areas with very large increases include:
Areas with mixed changes:
Areas with very large decreases:
Range changes elsewhereTanzania: range extension to Tarangire NP (Demey 2007c).
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 Weaver Wednesday 3  - Range changes : Eastern Golden Weaver on 2017-03-15