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…
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….
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…