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Sociable Weaver (Philetairus socius) Fact Sheet: Taxonomy & History

Taxonomic History and Nomenclature

Common name (from Craig and Christie 2013; ITIS 2014; Lodge 1991)

  • Sociable or Social Weaver
  • Common Social Weaver

Scientific name

  • Etymology
    • Genus Philetairus from two Greek words, philos meaning “loved or pleasing” and etairos meaning “a companion” (Gotch 1981)
  • Synonyms
    • Loxia social (Craig and Christie 2013)
  • Family placement
    • Variably placed within Passeridae (Old World Sparrows) or Ploceidae (Craig and Christie 2013; ITIS 2014)

Evolutionary History

Order Passeriformes (from Hackett et al. 2008 unless otherwise noted)

  • Collectively called passerines
  • Relationship to other birds not fully resolved
    • Closely allied with parrots (Psittaciformes) and falcons (Falconidae)
  • Divided into 2 major lineages
    • Suboscines (Tyranni)
    • Oscines (Passeri) – ‘songbirds’
      • Includes the Sociable Weaver
      • Contains 80% of all passerines (Scott and Harshman 2013)

Genus Philetairus

  • Monotypic genus (Craig 2004)
    • Contains a single species
    • Most commonly placed with other weavers in the family Ploceidae (Craig and Christie 2013; R Covas personal communication)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Passeridae or Ploceidae

Genus: Philetairus

Species: Philetairus socius (Latham, 1790)

(ITIS 2014; Craig and Christie 2013)

Early Rendering

Sociable Weaver painting

Artistic work appearing in Smith's 1849 book Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa.

Image within the public domain in the U.S.

Page Citations

Craig (2004)
Craig and Christie (2013)
Gotch (1981)
Hackett et al. (2008)
ITIS (2014)
Lodge (1991)
Scott and Harshman (2013)

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