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Weaver Wednesday [192] - Discovery [75]: Marsh Widowbird

2016-02-17 (700)

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Marsh Widowbird Euplectes hartlaubi

Marsh Widowbird
Marsh Widowbird
figure from Delacour (1933)
Marsh Widowbird
Marsh Widowbird, female, male,
non breeding male, figure from
Bannerman (1949)
Marsh Widowbird map
Marsh Widowbird
distribution, type locality circled


The Marsh Widowbird was formally described by Jose Vicente Barbosa du Bocage, a Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was curator of the Lisbon Museum, and described several other weavers.

The Marsh Widowbird was collected by Jose Alberto de Oliveira Anchieta, a Portuguese explorer and naturalist, who collected a large number of birds in Angola. In 1867 the Portuguese government hired Anchieta as a naturalist but probably also as a secret agent and informer in the Caconda region of Angola. Anchieta lived in Caconda, explored the area and sent many specimens and letters to his scientific correspondents in Lisbon. Anchieta discovered the Marsh Widowbird near Caconda, and sent a single male specimen to the Lisbon Museum. Bocage measured the tail as 160 mm, while tail length in the nominate subspecies is usually 163-201 mm.

The first illustration of the Marsh Widowbird was published in Delacour (1933). The second illustration was published by Bannerman (1949), as a black and white sketch, but also showing the female and non-breeding male.

Scientific citation

Penthetria hartlaubi Bocage 1878 Jorn. Sci. Math. Phys. Nat. Lisboa, 6, p.259 Caconda, Angola.

Meaning of names

hartlaubi, After Karl Johann Gustav Hartlaub (1814-1900) German ornithologist and author.

First English name

Hartlaub's Widow Bird (Layard 1884).

Alternate names

Hartlaub's Marsh Whydah, Hartlaub's Marsh Widowbird, Marsh Whydah, Uganda Marsh Whydah.


Jose de Anchieta.

Date collected

Before 1878.

Locality collected

Caconda, Angola.

Type specimens

The type specimen was in the Museum of Lisbon, before a fire destroyed the museum.