Social Weavers.. and their building skills..   52 comments

Social Weaver (Philetairus socius)

These nests are perhaps the most spectacular structures and are the largest built by any bird, they are large enough to house over a hundred pairs of birds, containing several generations at a time.

Larger birds like owls and vultures use the nest as a platform to build their nests.

The nests consist of separate chambers, each of which is occupied by a pair that roost and breed in it.  Nests are built in large trees and telephone poles..

The nest looks like a large haystack that someone has placed in a tree or hung on a telephone pole. Seen from below, there are several entrances into the chambers, giving a honey-comb appearance. The entrances are about 3 inches wide and can be up to 10 inches long. Sharp sticks are often placed to deter predators from entering. Snakes, especially the Cape cobras are the most common nest visitors, often eating all the eggs in all the chambers of a large nest.

The species ranges across north western South Africa, south west Botswana and extending northwards across Namibia. It is strongly associated with the arid savannahs characteristic of the southern Kalahari region. The presence of stiff grasses, an important nesting material is an important determinant of its distribution.

Here are a few photos of the phenomenal nests we came across…

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Kalagadi 241

Kalagadi 214

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Here are two photos of this actually unassuming little bird, that has a magnificent planning and construction skill… one that lives a little too close to the iron ore mines and is covered permanently in a red dust….

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Kalagadi 523

The construction in the tree is probably the biggest I’ve ever seen that on the left is approx. 10 – 12 m. wide (30 – 36 ft.) it must house hundreds of birds…

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52 responses to “Social Weavers.. and their building skills..

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  1. Such delicate little birds to construct such amazingly complex, large structures! What an example of cooperation! I’ve never seen anything quite like itin the bird world!

  2. Those nests are amazing – I had seen them on an episode of Survivor Man but had no idea of their size.

    • We saw some of the biggest I’ve ever seen… that one photo I think bigger than that you’re not going to find.. it was a huge tree and it went from one side to the other… massive…

  3. WOW! I have never seen something like that… This is so interesting. Thank you dear Rob, love, nia

  4. Incredibile, praticamente costruiscono dei condomini!! La natura non finisce mai di stupire e con le tue bellissime foto ho visto cose nuove che probabilmente non avrei mai visto. Grazie :-)
    Ciao, Pat

  5. Always you manage to awe strike me with photographs of nature. These are so impressive. Clever birds.

  6. Amazing Bulldog! We have little weaver birds here too, some building their nests from the chains dangling from downpipes! But I’m amazed that the cobra can get up a telegraph pole to raid their nests – or is that why they’ve taken to the phone lines rather than trees?

  7. Wow, Bulldog, this is the first I’ve seen anything like this. Those incredible little birds…including their attempt to place some measure of security. Honestly, nature has no end to it’s ability to surprise and amaze. Thanks for this.

    • Just as I thought.. nature and the lessons we learn from it.. I often wonder if the thatched roofs of our fore fathers did not originate from looking at nature and it’s nuances..
      Thank you for the comment, and I feel so good that so many have never seen this and I could be the one to enlighten them… just as so many enlighten me of different things throughout the world…

  8. That was very informative. Fascinating to learn about the habits of these birds. I don’t like the cobras’ role in this nesting business.Can’t they find some lizards to eat instead?
    Thanks for this great post!

  9. Unbelievable, incredible, amazing how they make such a nest! Now my Binky wants a nest like that too :D

  10. These really are amazing. I find it amazing that they can build such sophisticated nests.

  11. So good to get back to seeing some of your great photography…what a trip those birds have….like a bird condo….love your post…
    Sister Kaite who is Mother of ShopMotherEarth

  12. I’ve seen these nests and wondered how such a small bird can build such a huge thatched rondavel. :D Fabulous pics again, bdt.

  13. Wow …. This little cute birds built those complexes to nest – like community housings.
    Amazing, never heard of or seen before. I’m totally taken by it. Don’t really know what to say about this. So happy that you brought them to me. Some hardworking little bird. It’s Absolutely Amazing. Thanks a million for this.

  14. What an outstanding teacher you are! These birds and their nests are fascinating. I recall you posting photos of nests a while back, so thanks for this explanation. They are new creatures to me. Awesome! ;)

  15. Well this is something I never knew about. How amazing. They look very like the rooves in the villages in the pacific islands. In fact i wonder whether a person could build a little structure underneath and be protected from the rain should one find oneself marooned up a power pole! Fantastic little birds.. c

    • Thanks Cecilia… yes just like the thatched roof houses of Africa.. water proof and believe it or not heat controlled in the summer and winter… in the summer the central group are 9 – 11 C cooler than those on the outer edges and in winter 5 to 7 C warmer in the middle than the outer… amazing structures with no air conditioning except a natural one…

  16. out of this world incredible these little social weavers are! I am in awe of their ability to build these incredible structures. As mere humans we could never begin to do this with no thumbs and no tools. Wonderful photos bulldog!

  17. it’s like they’re super social with nests that house generations or hundreds…like villages…it’s facinating!

  18. Those nests are totally amazing.
    *hugs*

  19. You promised a post on social weavers and you delivered! They are amazing, so unique, really never seen anything like that in the bird kingdom. You description disturbed me a little because I have a bit of a phobia of clusters of holes (trypophobia), but it was worth it to learn about these birds!

  20. Since the first time I learn about these from you a short time ago, I find this fascinating. Many thanks!

  21. This was by far one of the most fascinating posts you have ever done. Those nests are so totally amazing – I have never seen anything like them in my life! Thanks for sharing Bulldog :).

  22. Wow!!! That’s amazing!!!!!!!!!!

  23. At first, I thought it was a prank, because it looks like a giant bear paw… Is incredible, but dangerous for the security of the telephones lines…is a bit like the nests storks build on churches towers.
    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Some of the telephone poles in the area they add a small circular ring below the wire so that the birds can use that to build their nests… it is a big thing in RSA… the environment… but then I say if you’re on a land line buy a cell phone and the birds wont bother you…

  24. gifted birds..skillful

  25. They are absolutely spectacular, Bulldog! Why don’t they get electrocuted on those lines????

    • These are telephone lines.. there are records of electrical shorts causing the nests to go up in flames… and I think they are discourage from nesting on power pylons as I’ve never seen one on a pylon… they do cause a bit of damage on the lines specially when the nests become fairly big and weighty…

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