Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [126] - Discovery [9]: Yellow Bishop

2014-11-12 (593)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Yellow BishopEuplectes capensis

Yellow Bishop
Yellow Bishop male,
figure from Brisson 1760
Yellow Bishop nest
Yellow Bishop male,
figure from Daubenton 1783
de La Caille
NL de La Caille,
figure from wikipedia
Yellow Bishop map
Yellow Bishop distribution,
type locality circled


Linnaeus (1766) briefly descriped the Yellow Bishop, based on the longer description in Brisson 1760. Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a French zoologist, gave the names "Le Pincon du Cap de Bonne Esperance" (French) and Fringilla Capitis Bonae Spei (Latin). Brisson's painting clearly shows the wing patch of the male.

Brisson noted that the Yellow Bishop originated from the Cape of Good Hope, from where specimens had been sent to RAF de Reaumur by Nicolas Louis de La Caille. de La Caille, a French astronomer, visited Table Bay (Cape Town) and went up the West Coast as far as Aurora to calculate the radius of the earth in the southern hemisphere. de La Caille arrived in Cape Town in 1751 (Forbes) and stayed for 2 years.

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

The Yellow Bishop was well known in the Cape in the early days of settlement. The first published reference to the Yellow Bishop was by Johann Schreyer, a German soldier. He arrived in Cape Town in 1668 and stayed for several years to work as a surgeon. He wrote a book (Schreyer 1681) and described many birds and animals, and wrote of one bird: "Some birds are as large as sparrows, and as yellow as wax on their backs". Of all the birds in Cape Town, only the Yellow Bishop fits this description. This is one of the earliest published references to any weaver. Similarly, Schreyer wrote about the Southern Red Bishop.

Scientific citation

Loxia capensis Linnaeus 1766 Syst. Nat., ed. 12, 1, p.306 Cape of Good Hope.

Meaning of names

capensis After the Cape of Good Hope (Modern Latin: Caput Bonae Spei; Portuguese: Cabo de Boa Esperanca), South Africa.

Alternate names

Black and Yellow Bishop Bird, Black-thighed Bishop Bird, Cape Bishop Bird, Cape Widow, Tropical Yellow Bishop Bird, Yellow-rumped Bishop, Yellow-Rumped Whydah, Yellow-rumped Widow.


de La Caille.

Date collected

Between 19 April 1751 and 8 March 1753 while de La Caille was in the Western Cape (source of dates).

Locality collected

Caput b. spei = Cape of Good Hope.

Type specimens

de La Caille's type specimens probably did not survive, but the painting of Brisson serves as a type.