Weaver Birds

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.

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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.

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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.

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Imagine our delight when we discovered these enormous creations clinging to the electrical poles along a certain stretch.

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We stopped to get a closer look and discovered hundreds of individual entrances facing the bottom – an apartment building for birds!

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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.

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This one looks like a giant sheep dog piñata!

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Here are several “growing” on a windmill and providing a nice perch for a pair of Pale Chanting Goshawks.

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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.

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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!

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8 thoughts on “Weaver Birds

  1. Don’t think there are any weaver birds in ND (but I’m not expert as you know), but we saw a similar type of bird in Central and South America – several different species of Oropendola whose nests are woven (you can find images of their nests online). They are in the blackbird family so don’t know if they are related to the weaver birds you’re seeing. Fun post – thanks.
    Sandy

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  2. Oh how fascinating about the birds. Truly remarkable a bird could build such an intricate nest and communal birds can make those big ones The last picture is a good laugh. Looks very comfy.
    Glad you are taking time for the little creatures as well as hippos, elephants and big cats.
    Love from Grandma Nancy

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  3. Reminds me of my years in Kenya. Weavers are very common there, too. But I don’t remember to have seen constructions as huge as these!
    Great stuff!
    Thanks!… and enjoy the Kalahari…

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  4. This is such a cool post! I have shared it with many of my coworkers who were on a trip with me to Denver, CO for the All American City competition which Columbia Heights was the first All American City 2016 selected this year! Hugs to you all!

    Kristen

    Please forgive iPad brevity!

    >

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  5. Hi friends!! Thanks for sharing these amazing photos! God’s creation is certainly entertaining! 🙂 Sending our warm thoughts and prayers as you soon say goodbye to South Africa..for now…and hello to all of us waiting with open arms to welcome you home! Safe travels!

    Peace friends!!

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