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Weaver Wednesday [132] - Discovery [15]: Northern Red Bishop

2014-12-24 (608)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus

Northern Red Bishop
Northern Red Bishop,
figure from Bosman 1704
Northern Red Bishop
Northern Red Bishop,
figure from Daubenton 1783
Northern Red Bishop
Northern Red Bishop,
figure from Isert 1789
Northern Red Bishop map
Northern Red Bishop distribution,
type locality circled


The Northern Red Bishop was formally named by Paul Erdmann Isert, a German botanist. Isert was a Chief Surgeon in Accra, in Danish Guinea, from 1783 to 1786. He noted that these birds were present from June to August, and he collected 12 male specimens. His German publication on the birds of the area included a poor line drawing of the Northern Red Bishop - the publication appeared days before his death.

Isert was not the first to write about the Northern Red Bishop. Willem Bosman gave the first description of birds from Ghana, including the Northern Red Bishop, with the first illustration (although poor) of this species, but without providing any names for most birds.

The first colour illustration of the Northern Red Bishop is found in Daubenton 1783, where it is incorrectly listed as coming from the Cape. The male is clearly a Northern Red Bishop with a red chin, and not a Southern Red Bishop. Boddaert 1783 identified most birds that were illustrated in Daubenton, but in the case of plate 134 fig 1 (the Northern Red Bishop), Boddaert only refers to the Fody in Figure 2.

Most likely a specimen of the Northern Red Bishop arrived in France, was illustrated in Daubenton and overlooked by Boddaert and other authors, leaving Isert to provide the first formal description for this species.

Scientific citation

Loxia franciscana Isert 1789 Schrift. Ges. Nat. Freund. Berlin, 19, p.332, pl.9 Accra, Ghana.

Meaning of names

franciscanus (Latin): franciscanus = Franciscus and -anus = relating to; thus refers to the scarlet robes worn by the Franciscan order (founded by St Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226).

Alternate names

Little Bishop, Orange Bishop, West Nile Bishop.


Paul Erdmann Isert.

Date collected

1783 - 1786, when Isert lived in Accra, Ghana.

Locality collected

an der See auf Acra = coastal Accra.

Type specimens

No type specimens known to survive.