Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [125] - Discovery [8]: Baya Weaver

2014-11-05 (590)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus

Baya Weaver
Baya Weaver, figure from Brisson 1760
Baya Weaver nest
Baya Weaver nests,
figure from Brisson 1760
Baya Weaver male
Baya Weaver male,
figure from Daubenton 1783
Baya Weaver map
Baya Weaver distribution,
type locality circled


Linnaeus (1766) briefly descriped the Baya Weaver, based on the longer description in Brisson 1760. Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a French zoologist, gave the names "Le Gros-bec des Philippines" (French) and Coccothraustes philippensis (Latin). Brisson's painting is poor, and early ornithologists suggested it referred to another Asian weaver, but Arthur Hay (1881) confirmed that Brisson and thus Linnaeus referred to the Baya Weaver.

Brisson noted that the Baya Weaver originated from the Philippines Isles, from where the specimen was sent to Paris to be housed in the Aubrey abbey.

The Philippines locality is an error, and Hartert (1902) realised this and suggested the type locality should be Ceylon (Sri Lanka), without provideing a reason for this choice. Stresemann (1952) showed that the Baya Weaver was collected by Pierre Poivre, the administrator of Mauritius and Reunion. Poivre travelled to the Coromandel Coast, ie SE coast of India, in 1753 being based at Pondicherry (or Puducherry) where Poivre collected several species of birds, including the Baya Weaver. The Stresemann (1952) reference appears to have been overlooked as modern texts still refer to Sri Lanka as the type locality.

Poivre also collected at least 2 nests of the Baya Weaver, which Brisson described in his text. These nests are the earliest illustrations of weaver nests in Western literature.

The first colour illustration of the Baya Weaver is in the book by Edme-Louis Daubenton, containing coloured engravings by Francois-Nicolas Martinet.

Tha Baya Weaver is well known in India and there are references to this bird in Indian literature that pre-dates the Western scientific literature.

Scientific citation

Loxia philippina Linnaeus 1766 Syst. Nat., ed. 12, 1, p.305-6 Philippines. Error for Ceylon (Hartert, 1902, Novit. Zool., 9, p.577)

Meaning of names

philippensis Named (incorrectly) after the Philippine Islands, which were named for Felipe (Philip) II King of Spain (1527-1598).

Alternate names

Philippine Grosbeak, Travancore Baya, Indian Baya, Eastern Baya.


Pierre Poivre.

Date collected

In 1753 when Poivre visited India.

Locality collected

Pondicherry, east Indian coast.

Type specimens

Poivre's type specimens did not survive (Stresemann 1952), but the painting of Brisson serves as a type.