We cannot call ourselves “birders” by any stretch, but we do try to appreciate birds. Anyone visiting South Africa would have to be asleep not to notice some of the gigantic, colorful, fast, loud, or melodious species here! We’ve made an attempt to learn some bird families and to “check off” certain species while visiting a national park or reserve.
Weavers caught our attention early on when we discovered them along the route we drive to school each morning.
The males work furiously upside down, tucking and pulling, as they weave these hanging nests. We’re told that the females select a mate based on the quality of his nest building. Apparently females sometimes bite the unacceptable nests off and all that work goes falling to the ground.
We thought the above weaver species was cool enough, but then learned about the “Sociable Weavers” which live in groups. We first came across their nests during the drive toward the Kalahari Desert last week. It was a long haul, beautiful (or to some, boring) in a wide-open and rugged sort of way.
Imagine our delight when we discovered these enormous creations clinging to the electrical poles along a certain stretch.
We stopped to get a closer look and discovered hundreds of individual entrances facing the bottom – an apartment building for birds!
I think it’s funny that we didn’t pay much attention to the actual birds that use these. Unlike the beautiful yellow weavers above, the Sociable Weavers are small, brown (black?), and very fast as they zoom in and out. You can’t believe the size of some of their nests! Once inside Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (probably familiar to you as The Kalahari), we found more nests on trees. Sometimes the weight caused trees to split in half or lose a branch.
This one looks like a giant sheep dog piñata!
Here are several “growing” on a windmill and providing a nice perch for a pair of Pale Chanting Goshawks.
I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have bothered to identify this other bird if we hadn’t first gotten hooked on the weavers. Is there such a thing as a “gateway species” that draws new birders in? Perhaps we’ve found ours!
We’re not the only ones they’ve intrigued. It’s easy to see how the architecture of weaver birds inspired landscape artists at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town.
This is what novice birders we are… we don’t even know if there are weaver species in North Dakota. Who knows if birds will continue to capture our attention once we’re home in a couple of weeks. I do know that I’d like to have one of these nests though!