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Weaver Wednesday [148] - Discovery [31]: Vitelline Masked Weaver

2015-04-15 (632)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus

Vitelline Masked Weaver
Vitelline Masked Weaver
(as Ploceus sublarvatus),
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Vitelline Masked Weaver
(as Ploceus vitellinus),
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Vitelline Masked Weaver
type specimen (ZMB_7298)
Vitelline Masked Weaver map
Vitelline Masked Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Vitelline Masked Weaver was formally described by Martin Lichtenstein, a German physician and explorer, who was appointed as director of the Berlin Zoological Museum from 1813.

Lichtenstein wrote a brief description in Latin for the Vitelline Masked Weaver, and noted its origin as Senegambia. He did not mention the collector, but two type specimens are in the Berlin Museum of Natural History, and the labels list Delbruck, a German collector. Lichtenstein listed 3 specimens, but one was sold to (or exchanged with) the museum in Vienna (Pelzeln 1887). Although Lichtenstein often sold or exchanged duplicate specimens before adequately describing them, he made the Berlin Museum one of the most active ornithological research centres in Europe.

The first illustration of a Vitelline Masked Weaver is a colour painting by Muller 1854 (but I do not have a copy of this). The next illustration is a set of birds painted in colour by Reichenbach (1863).

Scientific citation

Fringilla vitellina Lichtenstein 1823 Verz. Doubl., p.23 Senegambia.

Meaning of names

vitellinus Med. Latin: vitellinus, a deep yellow colour tinged red (Latin: vitellus, egg-yolk).

First English name

Rufous crowned Weaver (Swainson 1837), referring to the orange tinge on the crown.

Alternate names

Black-faced Weaver, Kenya Vitelline Masked Weaver, Rufous crowned Weaver.



Date collected

Before 1823.

Locality collected


Type specimens

Two syntypes are in the Berlin Museum and one in the Vienna Museum.