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Birds of the Week: Weavers
These birds aren't just great to look at—they also create some of nature's most stunning masterpieces.
Last week’s Bird of the Week, the northern shrike, was very cool, but it was also quite terrifying. So this week, I set out to find the opposite of a bird that impales its victims on thorns and eats away at them for days. And my research led me to…the weaver.
Weavers are small songbirds who mostly live in sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike, say, some other songbirds we have covered recently, they primarily eat benign things like seeds (though sometimes they will snag an insect for a meal). They’re not out here trying to kill everything that comes their way! They just want to live their lives and, most spectacularly, build their nests.
Yes, the name “weaver” comes from the fact that these birds quite literally weave their nests together. Male weaver birds construct stunningly elaborate structures out of thin, woven strips of leaves, and then female weaver birds operate as high-stakes architecture critics, selecting a mate in large part based on the worthiness of their nests. (Here’s a fun David Attenborough video showing the process.) One breed of weaver, the sociable weaver, goes even further, creating vast communal nests in trees that house hundreds of weavers all at once like a giant bird apartment building. It’s incredible!!!!
I couldn’t decide which kind of weaver to focus on because they are all so good, so I am showing you a sample of some of the many wonderful weavers that grace our world. How lucky we are!
OK weavers…take it away.
Vieillot's Black Weaver
Taveta Golden Weaver
Southern Masked Weaver
Sociable Weavers Nest