THE GREAT WHITE-HEADED WEAVER.
PLATE I., Fig. 1.
Textor dinemelli, Horsfield.
Textor dinemelli, Gray et Mitch. Gen. of Birds, ii. p. 350 pl. lxxxvii. fig. 2. (1844).
Textor leucocephalus, Rupp. Syst. Ueber. Vog. Nord-ost-Afrika’s, p. 72. (1845).
Textor dinemelli, Rupp. Syst. Ueber. Vog. Nord-ost-Afrika’s, pp. 72, 76. pl. xxx. (1845).
Textor dinemelli, Lefebv. Voy. en Abyssinie, vl. p. 108 (1845-50).
Aleeto dinemelli, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. p. 438 (1850).
Textor dinemelli, Buvry, Journ, fur Ornith. 1855, p. 65.
Aleeto dinemelli, J. W. von Muller, Journ, fur Ornith. 1855, p. 460.
Textor dinemellii, Heugl. Syst. Ubers. Vog, N.-O.-Afr. p. 37 (1856).
Textor dinemelli, Horsf, et Moore, Cat. Birds in Mus. E. I. C. ii. p. 521 (1856-8).
Dinemellia leucocephala, Reich. Singvogel, p. 88. pl. xlv. figs. 327-28 (1861).
Aleeto dinemelii, Heugl. Journ, fur Ornith. 1862, p. 25.
Aleeto dinemelli, Antin. Cat. di Uccelli, p. 63 (1864).
Textor dinemellii, Heugl. Journ, fur Ornith. 1867, p. 367.
Textor dinemelli, Heugl. Peterm. Geogr. Mith. 1869, p. 415.
Textor dinemelli, Finsch und Hartl. Vog. Ost-Afrika’s, p. 386 (1870).
Textor dinemellii, Gray, Hand-List B. ii. p. 40. No. 6556 (1870).
Textor dinemelli, Heugl. Ornith. Nordost-Afrika’s, p. 534. Append, p. cxxviii. (1871).
Textor dinemelli, Sharpe, Cat. of African Birds, p. 58 (1871)
Textor dinemelli., Cab. Journ, fur Ornith. 1878, pp. 217, 232.
Textor dinemelli, Fischer und Reichenow, Journ, fur Ornith. 1878, pp. 299, 351.
Textor dinemelli, Brehm, Thierl. ii. p. 366 (1879)
Textor dinemelli, Shelley, Proo. Zool. Soc. 1882, p. 307.
Textor dinemelli, Bohm, Journ, fur Ornith. 1883, p. 196.
Textor dinemelli, Schalow, Journ, fur Ornith. 1883, p. 361.
Textor dienemelli, Salvad. Ann. Mus. Civ. di Genova, 1884, p. 194.
Textor dinemelli, Fischer, Zeitsch. fur Gesam. Ornith. 1884, p. 333.
Textor dinemelli, Fischer, Journ, fur Ornith. 1885, p. 132.
Limoneres dinemelli, Reichenow, Journ, fur Ornith. 1885, p. 372.
Textor dinemelli, Shelley, Ibis, 1885, pp. 390, 392, 409.
Textor dinemelli, Shelley, Ibis, 1887, p. 44.
Figures, Rupp. Vogel Nord-Ost-Afr. pl. xxx. Gray et Mitch. Gen. Birds, pl. lxxxvii. Reich. Singvogel, pl. xlv.
English. Great White-headed Weaver. White-headed Dinemellia.
French. Tisserin de Dinnemell. Dinemellia tete blanche.
German. Weisskopfiger Webervogel. Weisskopfige Dinemellia.
Native Names. “Kiwi, Tulich and Kiungamesi.” Bohm.
Habitat. North-East and Eastern Africa. “Between about 12° n. lat. and 7° s. lat., from Shoa and Somali to Mamboio.” (Shelley).
Localities. Shoa, Abyssinia (Harris). Addebarrak, North-Eastern Abyssinia and White Nile (Lefebvre). Bahr-el-Abiad, Olibo and Belinian (Heugl.) Sudan (Knoblecker). Malemboa in Ukamba (Hildebrandt). Mamboio (Kirk). Kokoma (Bohm). Jambara and Ambo-Karra (Antin.) Wapokomoland, Masai, Barawa and Pare (Fischer). Somali-Land (Phillips). Masai (Thomsonn). Lado (Emin Bey).
Male. Head, neck, under-parts, and speculum white ; mantle, back, scapulars, wings and tail, dull chocolate brown ; primary-coverts black ; scapulars, secondaries, great-and lesser wing-coverts, broadly edged with buffish white ; shoulders, lower rump, upper- and lower tail-coverts scarlet, varied in some with yellow ; thighs black ; margins and tips of tail feathers, pale buff ; iris brown ; lores and skin round eye bluish-black ; bill blackish brown, paler at the tip ; legs and feet blackish brown : length 7.4, wing 4.3, tail 2.9, tars. 1.1, culm. 0.9. Female. Similar, but not so large as the male.
I have described below a very small pale coloured bird, probably a female, or an extreme variety.
Observ. The sexes appear to differ but little, according to authors, and I have not had an opportunity of examining a female, or a young bird, the dimensions of those I have seen, do not assist in the determination of the sex.
One specimen (No. 6.), in Capt. Shelley’s collection from Somali, is a very striking instance of the extreme variation in a species ; in this one, the white of the head and lower parts are strongly tinged with pale salmon ; the back, wings and tail are pale earthy-brown, with the edges of the feathers nearly white ; the white speculum is merged into the pale brown of the primaries, and all the quills white ; the red on the shoulders, rump, upper-and lower tail-coverts, less brilliant ; bill, legs and feet blackish.
The colour of the upper parts in many of the other specimens are varied with new feathers, which are always darker than the old and worn ones, some of these very old feathers, have completely lost the fine broad whitish edges, and the new primaries are quite as black as those in T. Boehmi.
Several of them are tinged on the breast with a dirty reddish brown substance, which can be removed, this must be obtained while the bird is in search of food, either in Ant hills, or on the ground.
THE present species was first made known to science by Major Harris, who obtained it at Shoa in Abyssinia, and the figure appeared in the first part of Gray and Mitchell’s ‘Genera of Birds,’ published in 1844, without a description, but in the following year Ruppell gave a good description and figure of it, in his ‘Systematische Uebersicht der Vogel Nordost-Afrika’s,’ 1845. Since then it has been brought home by many travellers from Abyssinia and East Africa.
Respecting its habits, nidification and distribution, we are indebted to several German travellers, who have of late years greatly increased the knowledge we possess of the Avi Fauna of the country inhabited by this bird.
Herr Th. von Heuglin says, “In the stomach we found insects, berries and Durah (African Millet). We received it in winter and spring from the Upper White Nile, viz., from the territories of the Kidj-negroes, from Olibo and the Belinian. Living sociably like Textor aleeto on cattle pastures with isolated trees and thickets, in the neighbourhood of rain beds, and is no less lively and talkative than its relations of the same tribe.”
Dr. R. Bohm tells us “This prettily coloured weaver is common in the neighbourhood of Kokoma and is found in little flocks, usually in places where groups of trees standing together on expanses of grass form a sort of park-land. I here mention that it constantly lives together with Urolestes. (It may be reckoned as highly probable that the name Kiungamesi belonging to it, has been falsely mentioned to me for the latter species also). Here from bushes, but preferably from the summit of Acacia-trees he utters that loud, shrill, trumpet-like call which gives rise to his name of Kiungamesi. On the wing he utters a disconnected Kick Kick like a woodpecker, and a low piep piep may be the expression of his content. The Dinemelli weavers are clumsy and awkward in their movements, their flight also is heavy and fluttering. Left to themselves which is seldom the case as we have already seen, they maintain their usual character.
“The nests of this weaver, of which several are usually built together, are generally placed at the summit of thorny Acacias. They consist of large, rather untidy tufts of fine grass, mixed with single feathers and large leaves and are entered by an opening in the lower side. They are carefully fortified with twigs and sharply pointed little branches, which surround not only the nest but are massed deep down and high up on all the branches leading to it. On March 8th, I found a little pair building on a wide spreading Acacia-tree in the Masika Lake, near Itimbua in Wagalla, and on April 28th, I received a nest (without twigs) measuring 24 centimetres in diameter, containing a naked fledgling, which was dis¬tinguished by very swollen, yellow corners of its mouth. Two eggs also which I received on May 14th, one addled, the other containing a large embryo, are said to belong to the Tulich. They have a grey greenish- white ground, covered with brownish-black spots and marks.”
“ Plains near Pare, July 31st. Iris brown ; bill, bare skin round the eye and feet black.
“I encountered six of these weavers on the ground, among a number of Notauges superbus. Their behaviour reminded me of that of the Starling.” (G. A. Fischer).
Capt. G. E. Shelley gives us in the 'Ibis,’ 1885, Mr. E. Lort Phillips’s observations on this species, while in Somali-land. “These birds are fairly common throughout the country, frequenting the Mimosa-trees. They are very noisy when on the wing, and breed in colonies. Their eggs are green, thickly speckled with dark brown, and 0.95 inch long. In one of these colonies a pair of the small Hawk, Poliohierax semitorquatus, had usurped a nest, but were regarded apparently as welcome visitors by these sociable Weavers.”
No. Sex. Mus. Country. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
1 Male G. E. Shelley. Lado (Emin Bey) 7.4 4.3 2.9 1.1 0.9
2 ? G. E. Shelley. Sudan (Knoblecker) 7.3 4.4 3.2 1.2 0.9
3 ? G. E. Shelley. Mamboio (Dr. Kirk) 7.9 5 3.5 1.3 0.9
4 ? G. E. Shelley. Masai (Thomsonn) 7.9 4.5 3.2 1.1 0.9
5 ? G. E. Shelley. Somali (Phillips) 8.2 4.8 3.5 1.2 1.1
6 ? G. E. Shelley. Somali (Phillips) 7 4.3 3.1 1.2 0.9
7 Female H. B. Tristram. Lado (Emin Bey) 9.2 4.6 3.7 1.25 0.85
The figure (Plate 1. fig. 1.), is taken from No. 7, lent to me by the Rev. Canon Tristram, 3/4 size.