Who or What Built This Nest?

20171009_091851It may be hard to believe that this massive structure was built by a little bird, but it’s true. Of course, he had a little help from his friends.

The Sociable Weaver is a small bird in the sparrow family. It lives in southern Africa.

Unlike other birds that only build a nest in the breeding season, the sociable weaver use and maintain the nest throughout the entire year. This colony can be as few as 10 birds up to 400 to 500!

The nesting-structures can reach upwards of 13 feet high (3.9 m) and 23 feet in length (7 m). Now that’s one giant nest! The sociable weavers build their nests in tall trees, or on top of telephone poles.

NKB_9000-1165-1024x585-1024x585To create such a massive structure, the sociable weavers use an assortment of twigs, branches, leaves, fur, and cotton. These little birds are constantly adding to the nest to ensure it is stable.

Each pair of the sociable weaver has its own nesting chamber. In fact, if you were to look closely at the entire structure, you could see dozens of little entrance holes in it – this makes it look like a honeycomb!

The Nest & Other Animals

The sociable weavers nest is important for other animals, too. Small species of birds like the acacia pied barbet, ashy tit, and red-headed finch will also roost in these cozy chambers. Large birds (owls and vultures) build their nests on top of the sociable weavers colony.

Paper wasps like to build their nests under these massive structures because it provides them with protection from the elements.

images (3)Animals like Kudu and impala use the weaver nests for shade. Baboons and slender mongoose use them as sites for foraging. Even the wild cats such as leopard and cheetah use these nests as a refuge and as a platform to view the landscape.

Since the main predator of the sociable weaver bird is the boomslang and Cape cobra (two dangerous snakes), having other birds and animal visitors helps keeps the sociable weavers safe.

Quick Facts About the Sociable Weaver Bird

  • The sociable weaver can reach up to 5.5 inches in length (14cm).
  • It is brown with a black chin and white cheeks. Its belly is creamy or white and it Sociable_weaver_(Philetairus_socius) (2)has white, black, and brown feathers on the backs and wings, which creates a scale-like appearance.
  • The sociable weaver has a strong, conical beak. Its legs, feet and beak are bluish-grey.
  • These birds like to dine on termites, other insects, and seeds. However, they do not drink water. They get all the moisture they need from their food.

Did You Know?

The female sociable weaver lays 2 to 6 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch after only two weeks. Both parents and young siblings participate in rearing of chicks. These birds also take care of other unrelated chicks in the colony.

Young birds are ready for the independent life at the age of 14 to 16 days, but they stay within the colony. Once they find a mate, they will have their own nesting chamber within the massive structure.

What do you think of the sociable weaver and its giant nest? Tell us in the comments section.

Categories: Beaks & Bills

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