Weaver subspecies

Over 600 names have been proposed for weaver species and subspecies, but many of these names are taxonomically invalid. There are 117 weaver bird species, but different world checklists or handbooks accept slightly different subspecies.

It is to be expected that there would be a direct relationship of number of described taxa per species with total range of the species. The range extent was adapted from the Birdlife International Datazone.

Range extent vs taxa described


Species with single description

32 weaver species have never had more than one description (either species or subspecies level): Rufous-tailed Weaver, Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-weaver, Chestnut-mantled Sparrow-weaver, Seychelles Fody, Rodrigues Fody, Forest Fody, Aldabra Fody, Bob-tailed Weaver, Fire-fronted Bishop, Jackson’s Widowbird, Montane Marsh Widowbird, Bates’s Weaver, Cassin’s Malimbe, Rachel’s Malimbe, Sao Tome Weaver, Yellow-legged Weaver, Golden-naped Weaver, Ibadan Malimbe, Yellow-capped Weaver, Bar-winged Weaver, Loanga Weaver, Clarke’s Weaver, Tanganyika Masked Weaver, Lufira Masked Weaver, Bocage’s Weaver, Fox’s Weaver, Bannerman’s Weaver, Weyns’s Weaver, Príncipe Golden Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Kilombero Weaver, Ruvu Weaver. These are all weavers with small ranges, and many of these are some of the rarest weavers.

Village Weaver subspecies

The weavers with the most described taxa (including invalid names) are – Village Weaver (27), Dark-backed Weaver (23), Baglafecht Weaver (22) and Yellow Bishop (22).

The Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus shows some striking plumage differences in breeding males, yet has been shown to belong to a single species. The underparts of breeding males are more chestnut in humid climates, and yellower in dry climates. The subspecies can be grouped as:

  1. V-backed group – P. c. cucullatus
  2. Mottle-backed groups:
  • 2a. P. c. collaris with chestnut breast band,
  • 2b. P. c. nigriceps with black head, and
  • 2c. P. c. spilonotus with yellow crown.


Some Village Weaver subspecies


The Google Earth image below shows the accepted subspecies of the Village Weaver as coloured shapes, and some of the synonymised names are shown as rectangular shapes.

Village Weaver – range of some subspecies



Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.