Social weavers are small birds that live in communes, building joint nests for up to 300 pairs. The nests up can be as large as 25 feet wide, 5 feet high, weighing over one ton, and with an individual room for every couple. One known colony is over 100 years old.
Sometimes the trees they are in collapse and die from the weight.
Thanks to telephone poles, and power lines, the social weavers are expanding their range.
Twigs, coarse grass and straw are the main building materials. Nest interiors are lined with fur, feathers and soft plants. They offer a stable micro climate for hot days and cold nights in the Kalahari desert. The birds use them for sleeping as well as breeding.
They enter from the bottom.
Another sub-species of the weaver bird weaves intricate individual nests.
The best weaver birds have the ability to tie dozens of different shaped knots and loops for which they use their feet as well as beaks.
Photo by: Phil Strange
Designs and neatness of construction vary widely among the different species of weaver birds. Some are simple and scruffy, with a small tube and roundish nests. Other species build much more elaborate nests, with the strands of grass carefully interwoven to form a well-defined structure. The main part is a hollow sphere, lined with nesting material, accessed through a long tube which has a small entrance hole. The nests are usually tough and well-secured so a high wind will not blow them down.
Above photos by: Edgar Thissen