27 October, 2009

Weaver bird building his home

We chose this plot because of the wall of giant/Spanish reed in the distant bottom corner. There are weavers living here, and the Ungardener dreamt of sharing our garden with them one fine day.

The reeds are an invasive alien in South Africa. They are growing in that corner because we are in lower Porterville. This was once a vlei (seasonal pond) and the one before last farmed RICE here. No wonder we have been floating in a houseboat for two of our three winters.

These are masked weavers (see portrait on 29th August). We also have Cape weavers (see 13th September). And we do have visiting red Bishops (see 10th October), but the weavers will not allow them to stay – NIMBY in the bird world too.

It is quite fascinating to watch how quickly that nest is woven. By one bird. Tying knots and weaving with his beak. No hands. No fingers. No opposable thumb. For us, the pinnacle of creation, quite impossible. (Although I do acknowledge foot and mouth painters, from charity Christmas cards).

Just off to get some more supplies dear
When he has finished, he waits eagerly, bobbing up and down in breathless anticipation, to see if his lady love (one of his lady loves, he has a harem) will approve. If she does, structurally sound was his problem. She gets to enjoy d├ęcor and furnishing the nursery! Bit of fluff from the sheep next door?!

Masked weaver Ploceus velatus. Sparrow family. 15 cm. His lovely lady wears grey and green, to offset his peacock display. He builds two types of nests, one for roosting and the other for the eggs. Eggs are white to pale pink, others blue white to greenish blue, plain at times, or blotched in varying amounts of grey and brown.
from Birds of the South Western Cape, by Joy Frandsen. 1982

And perhaps, one fine day, the Ungardener will achieve weavers nesting on Ungardening Pond. Since they do prefer to nest near water.


  1. Hi Diana, these are the most fascinating birds, real architects! The nests are works of art in themselves. Hope the Ungardener, love the name! gets his wish. :-)

  2. So many nests in one place and how fascinating is the process of building a nest! I love the colour of the bird!
    This post was like watching a Discouvery documentary, Thanks!

  3. Frances and Vrtlarica - you can see why we watch this procedure with interest. And people complain that the weavers strip their palms. The birds would rather have winter grass - but that is messy weeds!

  4. Amazing nests!! I can't imagine being able to watch them being constructed. How lucky you are!!

  5. This is just so fascinating! I love how the male bird builds the house (nest) first and then searches for a mate :)

  6. Wonderful post! Great photos of the bright bird hard at work... quite the weaver. I love all the nests ... hanging in groups like little condos... very communal minded. Carol

  7. azplantlady - no no, his ladies observe the building process, and get to RIP it all apart, to the Ungardener's consternation, if she doesn't like it. Then he has to start, all over again, from the very first knot!
    Carol, you have reminded me, there are also social weavers in a humungous condo. Will post on that another time.

  8. I have always been fascinated by weavers, and you are so lucky to get to watch them at work!

  9. Great post! That is amazing what they can do and thanks for sharing.


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Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

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