Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [214] - Discovery [97]: Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver

2016-07-20 (733)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni

Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
adult, figure from Sharpe (1901)
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
nests, figure from Oberholser (1945)
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver map
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
distribution, type locality circled
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver
Part of Donaldson Smith's map,
type locality circled


Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver was formally described by Richard Bowdler Sharpe, an English zoologist.

Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver was collected by Arthur Donaldson Smith, an American doctor, amateur big-game hunter, and explorer of Africa.

In in 1894-95 Donaldson Smith undertook an 18-month geological expedition in East Africa. The expedition started in Berbera, Somalia (then British Somaliland), passed through what was then Somaliland, southern Ethiopia and then to Lake Rudolph (now Lake Turkana) in Kenya. Donaldson Smith collected birds and many animals, particularly fish, spiders, scorpions, butterflies and beetles. The expedition left Lake Rudolf on 24 August 1895, and went SW, and crossed Marsabit Mt. On 13 September Donaldson Smith had a close encounter with an elephant, and the next day he collected the weaver specimen. He reached Lasamis on 16 September.

Donaldson Smith wrote a book about his travels, which can be downloaded here (295 Mb).

The first illustration of the Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver was of an adult, published by Sharpe (1901). The next illustration was a black and white photo of nests by Oberholser (1945).

Scientific citation

Plocepasser donaldsoni Sharpe 1895a, Bull. Br. Orn. Club, 5, p.14 'Eastern Africa' = Lasamis, Kenya.

Meaning of names

donaldsoni, Named after A. Donaldson-Smith (1864-1939) US zoologist and collector in Somaliland, 1894-1895.

First English name

Donaldson Sparrow-Weaver (Shelley 1905b).

Alternate names

Donaldson's Sparrow-Weaver, Somali Grey Sparrow Weaver.


Arthur Donaldson Smith.

Date collected

14 Sep 1895.

Locality collected

Lasamis, Kenya.

Type specimens

The type is in the British Museum (BM 1895.7.7.23).