Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [200] - Discovery [83]: Black-billed Weaver

2016-04-13 (712)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster

Black-billed Weaver
Black-billed Weaver female,
figure from Shelley (1887)
Black-billed Weaver
Black-billed Weaver female,
figure from Sharpe (1890)
Black-billed Weaver
Black-billed Weaver male (behind),
figure from Sharpe (1891)
Black-billed Weaver map
Black-billed Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Black-billed Weaver was formally described by George Ernest Shelley, an English geologist and ornithologist.

The Black-billed Weaver was collected by Harry Johnston, a British explorer, botanist, and colonial administrator.

Johnston climbed Mount Cameroon to collect explore and specimens. Burton and others had preceeded him, but Johnston found some new mammals and birds. He experienced a week of rain at 7350 feet (2.2 km) and then transferred his camp to Hunter's Hut at 8300 feet (2.5 km), in "a narrow peninsula of forest which pushes up the mountainside". Here he collected a female of the Black-billed Weaver, which Johnston thought was a male (the male was first collected a few years later). Johnston reached the summit of Mount Cameroon at 4km elevation, being the the fourth most prominent peak in Africa.

Shortly after this expedition, in October 1886, the British government appointed him vice-consul in Cameroon and the Niger River delta area.

The first illustration of the Black-billed Weaver was published by Shelley (1887) when he described the species. The next illustration to be published was a line drawing of the head published by Sharpe (1890), also of a female. Sharpe (1891) first illustrated a male.

Scientific citation

Ploceus melanogaster Shelley 1887, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, p.126, Cameroon Mt., 8000 ft.

Meaning of names

melanogaster, Greek: melas, black; gaster, the belly.

First English name

Johnston's Yellow-headed Black Weaver (Shelley 1905).

Alternate names

Black Mountain Weaver, Jackson's Yellow-headed Black Weaver, Johnston's Yellow-headed Black Weaver, Uganda Black-billed Weaver, Yellow-faced Black Weaver.


Harry Johnston.

Date collected

Sep 1886.

Locality collected

Mt Cameroon.

Type specimens

The type is in the British Museum (BM 1887.3.7.34).