Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [162] - Discovery [45]: Giant Weaver

2015-07-22 (657)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Giant Weaver Ploceus grandis

Giant Weaver
Giant Weaver male,
figure from Fraser 1849
Giant Weaver
Giant Weaver,
different races
figure from Reichenbach 1863
Giant Weaver map
Giant Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Giant Weaver was formally named by George Robert Gray, an English zoologist and author.

The Giant Weaver was collected by Louis Fraser, a British zoologist and collector. Fraser participated in the British Royal Naval Expedition to the Niger River in 1841-42 as one of five civilian scientists appointed to the expedition.

Fraser became ill on board and was considered too unfit to continue with the expedition when it returned to the West African mainland in March 1842. He made his own way to Bioko, reaching it by 15 May 1842, after spending six weeks along the Gulf of Guinea in other naval vessels. He began a collection of birds, mammals, fish and crustaceans. The months spent in the Gulf of Guinea from March to July were profitable (Moore 2001), and he collected the Giant Weaver on St Tome Island. In 1847, the British Museum purchased 64 bird skins from Fraser, including the Giant Weaver.

Fraser published descriptions of some of his new birds in 1842, but named his weaver as Ploceus collaris. This name had already been used by Vieillot for a subspecies of the Village Weaver and was thus not a valid naming. Gray realised this and provided a new name in his list of genera and species in 1844.

The first illustration of a Giant Weaver is a colour painting in Fraser 1849. The next illustration is by Reichenbach (1863), also of an adult male.

Scientific citation

Hyphantornis grandis Gray 1844 Gen. Birds, 2, p.[1] of Ploceinae = Ploceus collaris Fraser nec Vieillot (1842, PZSL, p.142); Sao Tome.

Meaning of names

grandis - Latin: large, great.

First English name

St. Thomas' Weaver Bird (Fraser 1849).

Alternate names

St. Thomas' Weaver Bird, The great Weawer.


Louis Fraser.

Date collected

1842, between March to July.

Locality collected

St. Tome Island.

Type specimens

One specimen is known to be in the British Museum (BM 1847.1.18.3) together with 3 more syntypes (Warren 1971).