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Weaver Wednesday [223] - Discovery [106]: Forest Fody

2016-09-21 (743)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Forest Fody Foudia omissa

Forest Fody
Forest Fody, male
figure from Delacour (1932)
Forest Fody
Forest Fody, female (top) and male,
figure from Lavauden (1937)
Forest Fody map
Forest Fody
distribution, type locality circled


The Forest Fody was formally described by Walter Rothschild, a British banker, politician, and zoologist.

The collector of the Forest Fody is unknown.

Rothschild employed other people to collect birds and animals for him in remote and little-known parts of the world. This would have included the Forest Fody, which was collected in Madagascar on 21 Aug 1891 (date presumably based on a label). However, the name of the collector was not recorded. Two more males from 1891 were also included as types.

Rothschild also hired professional scientists to work with him to write up his resulting collections, e.g. Ernst Hartert for birds, from 1892 until his retirement at the age of 70 in 1930. But Rothschild wrote up the species description for the Forest Fody himself in 1912, several years after it had been collected. Presumably the specimen had been thought to be a moulting Madagascar Fody at first, as Rothschild named it "omissa", i.e. overlooked.

At one point Rothschild's collection included 300000 bird skins, 200000 birds' eggs, as well as thousands of specimens of mammals, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, and beetles. They formed the largest zoological collection ever amassed by a private individual. Rothschild opened his private museum in 1892. It housed one of the largest natural history collections in the world, and was open to the public. In 1932 he was forced to sell the vast majority of his bird collection to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) after being blackmailed by a former mistress.

Adolphe Boucard collected extensively in Mexico and Central America, concentrating on collecting hummingbirds. He sold scientific bird skins to Natural History museums and supplied the plume trade. In 1891 he moved to London and set up a taxidermist company Boucard, Pottier & Co. He facilitated the sale of 3 Forest Fody specimens from Rothschild to the AMNH.

The Forest Fody was first illustrated by Delacour (1932), showing a male, after visiting Madagascar. The next illustration to be published was by Lavauden (1937), showing both male and female.

Scientific citation

Foudia omissa Rothschild 1912a, Bull. Brit. Orn. Cl. 31 p.26, Tamatave, Madagascar.

Meaning of names

omissa, Latin: omissus, negligent, remiss (i.e. previously overlooked) (omittere, to let go).

First English name

Rothschild's Fody (Sclater 1930a).

Alternate names

Rothschild's Fody.



Date collected

21 Aug 1891 (holotype).

Locality collected

Tamatave, Madagascar.

Type specimens

Three types are in the American Museum of Natural History.