Dr Hans-Dieter Oschadleus, bird-ringing coordinator, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town

This course will discuss the discovery of the weaverbirds, a family of about one hundred and twenty species found mainly in Africa. The weavers were formally described from 1758, but some were known about long before Linnaeus. An essential part of the discovery of weavers was the work of museum professionals who received a large influx of specimens that needed to be sorted and compared to other specimens and literature descriptions before new species could be described. By the early 1900s a large number of birds were still being described, however these were largely subspecies. Although the rate of new species descriptions slowed down in the twentieth century, new genetic techniques are resulting in new species being named, or in subspecies being upgraded to species level. While the focus of the course will be on weavers, much of the material is relevant to other birds



1. Linnaeus to Levaillant: the early years

2. Smith and South Africa: the early 1800s

3. Collectors of curiosities: the late 1800s

4. Authors and illustrators

5. Name changers: the modern era


Recommended reading

Any books on the exploration of Africa, or the history of ornithology


Date: 22–26 January 
Time: 9.15 am
COURSE  FEES  Full: R510,00  Staff: R255,00  Reduced: R130,00