Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [149] - Discovery [32]: Little Weaver

2015-04-21 (634)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus

Little Weaver
Little Weaver
figure from Vieillot 1825
Little Weaver
figure from Jardine 1849
Little Weaver
type specimen (ZMB_7296)
Little Weaver map
Little Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Little 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 Little Weaver, noting its slender bill, 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 did not list the number of specimens, so there may be more types in other museums.

The first illustration of a Little Weaver is a colour painting by Vieillot 1825. The next illustration contains line drawings in Swainson 1838 (not shown here), and then the next published illustration is by Jardine 1849, again in colour but including a female.

The Little Weaver had first been described by Vieillot 1823 as Ploceus personatus but all subsequent authors only saw later reprints of Vieillot's work, and thus considered Lichtenstein's name to have priority. It is unclear which publication (Lichtenstein 1823 or Vieillot 1823) appeared in print first.

Scientific citation

Fringilla luteola Lichtenstein 1823 Verz. Doubl., p.23 Senegal.

Meaning of names

luteola Latin: luteolus, yellowish, pale yellow (luteus, saffron-yellow).

First English name

Black-capped Weaver-Finch (Ogilvie-Grant 1902) - first English name used some 80 years after being described!

Alternate names

Atlas Weaver, Kavirondo Little Weaver, Little Masked Weaver, West African Little Weaver.



Date collected

Before 1823.

Locality collected


Type specimens

Two syntypes are in the Berlin Museum.