Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [234] - Discovery [117]: Kilombero Weaver

2016-12-07 (756)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Kilombero Weaver Ploceus burnieri

Kilombero Weaver
Kilombero Weaver male & female,
figure from Baker 1990a
(Image from Biodiversity Heritage Library,
Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries)
Kilombero Weaver
Kilombero Weaver nest,
figure from Baker 1990a
(Image from Biodiversity Heritage Library,
Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries)
Kilombero Weaver map
Kilombero Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Kilombero Weaver was first collected and formally described by NE Baker & EM Baker, ornithologists working in Tanzania.

The Kilombero Weaver was first noticed by Eric Burnier, a Swiss physician and amateur naturalist, who worked at the Ifakara medical research station in Tanzania. The weaver was reasonably common in the area, but Burnier could not identify it, and so he mentioned it to the Bakers. During December 1986 Neil and Elizabeth Baker visited the town of Ifakara in Morogoro Region, east central Tanzania, mainly as a field trip for the Tanzanian Bird Atlas.

At the time of their visit, the weaver was breeding and male birds were easily located along the road to the nearby ferry at Kivukoni. The species was distinctive but could not be identified in the field. Five female and 2 male birds were caught in mist nets. One male and one female specimen were collected as types for a new species.

Subsequent visits to the site were made on 27 February 1987 and 2 April 1988. A further 12 males and 21 females were caught and measured. On 27 February 1987 two specimens were collected at Kivukoni for the University of Dar es Salaam.

The Bakers did not find any mixed species colonies with the Kilombero Weaver, and the closest known breeding weavers were small colonies of Eastern Golden Weavers nesting in bamboo in Ifakara township outside the swamp habitat 7 km away.

The Kilombero Weaver was first illustrated in the type description, by a colour plate of the male and female, and also a line drawing of a nest, and of the bill shapes of similar weavers.

Scientific citation

Ploceus burnieri Baker & Baker (Baker 1990a), Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 110 p52, Ifakara, Morogoro region, Tanzania.

Meaning of names

burnieri, Named after Eric Burnier (fl. 1986) British doctor, field naturalist, and collector in Africa.

First English name

Kilombero Weaver (Baker 1990a).

Alternate names



NE Baker & EM Baker.

Date collected

28 Dec 1986 and 27 Feb 1987.

Locality collected

Ifakara, Tanzania.

Type specimens

The types are in the British Museum (BM 1989-7-1, BM 1989-7-2) and Dar es Salaam Museum (UDSMB 341, UDSMB 342).