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About Sociable Weavers

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Monstrous Sociable Weavers' Nests

Monstrous nests built by the sociable weavers in Namibia, South Africa

Monstrous nests built by the sociable weavers in Namibia, South Africa

Examples of Sociable Weavers Living Alongside Humans

Looks like these nests in the windmill are just getting started and may eventually expand to fill the entire framework.

Looks like these nests in the windmill are just getting started and may eventually expand to fill the entire framework.

A large Sociable Weaver colony utilizing an electrical pole.

A large Sociable Weaver colony utilizing an electrical pole.

Another example of Sociable Weaver birds making good use of an electrical pole.  Wonder how it can balance like that during a severe thunderstorm like they have sometimes?

Another example of Sociable Weaver birds making good use of an electrical pole. Wonder how it can balance like that during a severe thunderstorm like they have sometimes?

What are Sociable Weavers?

Sociable Weavers are song birds that live in South Africa in and near the Kalahari Desert. They live in gargantuan communal nests, which is how they got their name. However, their nests are not woven.

There is a shortage of food for miles and miles around the sociable weavers’ habitat (primarily desert) and for that reason they do not usually begin breeding until they are two years old. Seeds and insects are their preferred food and they love termites.

University of Cape Town researchers believed lack of food was the reason the sociable weavers waited so long to breed, and so they did an experiment to determine if they were correct. They spread birdseed out lavishly for several months, and as a result the birds began breeding after only a year instead of waiting for two years as had been their habit (Scientific American). Most song birds breed before they are a year old.

The monstrous nests made from twigs, grasses, cotton, fur, and other items common to the area, include several generations, some 300 to 400 birds. They are lined with feathers and soft plant materials, and are often as wide as twenty-five feet and as tall as ten feet high! (Huffington Post)

All of the birds, regardless of their generation, work together to build and maintain the nest, and that is very labor intensive since the nest requires constant attention. All the generations of birds, not just the parent couple(s), also work together to raise the babies — it takes a village, or a commune in this case.

Sociable Weavers Leaving Their Nests

All the holes you see in the nest are entrances to different nests and different parts of the nest.  For example, they have different rooms for breeding, nurseries, and communing.

All the holes you see in the nest are entrances to different nests and different parts of the nest. For example, they have different rooms for breeding, nurseries, and communing.

Sociable Weavers are Sparrow-Like Song Birds

A closeup of the Sociable Weaver.

A closeup of the Sociable Weaver.

Sociable Weavers sharing a slice of bread.

Sociable Weavers sharing a slice of bread.

This weaver next is so huge one has to wonder how the tree can bear the weight, especially during and after a rain storm.

This weaver next is so huge one has to wonder how the tree can bear the weight, especially during and after a rain storm.

A Few Facts About Sociable Weavers

Sociable weavers get most of their water from the food they eat. They rarely drink water.


The young birds are self reliant at just over two weeks of age — 16 days, but generally remain in the nest along with the hundreds of other birds and make themselves useful working to maintain the nest and helping to raise their parent’s next brood.


In an effort to compromise with humans, sociable weavers often build their haystack looking nests on top of, and around telephone poles.


Some species of lovebirds and finches reproduce inside the nests of sociable weavers. Large birds such as owls and vultures build their own nests on the roof of the sociable weavers' nest.

Softschools.com


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The sociable weaver’s nests can weigh a ton or more, especially after it has rained and they have soaked up a lot of water.

Audubon


Natural Enemies of Sociable Weavers

Boomslang

Boomslang

Cape Cobra

Cape Cobra

Extreme Environmental Conditions

Some weaves' nests have been known to last as long as a hundred years! However, it was noted that when food was plentiful, fewer of the birds hung around the nest, and so fewer of them tended to the maintenance of the nest.

The brutal heat of the day can turn very chilly at night in the desert. The nests are well insulated from both the heat in the daytime and the cold at night. Temperatures can easily fluctuate 45 degrees or more from the coldest at night to the hottest during the day in the weavers’ habitat.

An average daytime temperature in the Kalahari Desert where most of these birds reside, is 113 degrees Fahrenheit ( Wikipedia). Summer is when any rain is received and storms can often be violent (World wildlife.Org). Night temperatures during the cooler season can go as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (Audubon).

The sociable weavers’ habitat changes very little, remaining hot and dry all the time regardless of the season so that there is no need for the birds to migrate as many other birds do.

The weavers primary enemy is the snake. Hannah Waters writing for Scientific American reports that 70 per cent of baby sociable weavers end up killed and eaten by snakes — mostly boomslangs (large venomous tree snakes) and Cape cobras. Black Mambas, baboons, rats or genets favor the chicks for a snack also (Africa Geographic).

It seems that once the birds begin breeding, that is their primary occupation. They lay 2 to 6 eggs anywhere from 4 to 9 times a year. These birds, members of the sparrow family, can live for up to 10 years. Despite severe storms in summer and snakes all of the time, the biggest threat to the weavers is overgrazing and logging.

Interesting birds, weavers have the largest nests of any birds in the world. When I first saw a photo of the nests in the trees I thought the trees must have some sort of terrible disease or an infestation of some sort. What a surprise to discover all those huge haystack looking things in the trees were nests for little song birds!


Sociable Weaver

More About Birds from C. E. Clark

Sources

Audubon Magazine

https://www.audubon.org/magazine/march-april-2014/africas-social-weaverbirds-take-communal


Africa Geographic

http://africageographic.com/blog/11-interesting-facts-about-sociable-weavers/


Sociable Weaver Facts

http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/sociable_weaver_facts/1228/


Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalahari_Desert


World Wildlife Org.

https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/at1309


Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/worlds-largest-bird-nests-dillon-marsh-social-weaver-south-africa_n_2760633.html


Scientific American

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/culturing-science/sociable-weavers/


Comments

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 24, 2020:

Peggy Woods, glad to hear things are going well as possible down there. I voted also, on the 14th. Took only 25 minutes once I got in line.

Thank you for taking a few minutes to check out this article and shine some light on it. Stay well!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 17, 2020:

Hooray for articles like this one about sociable weavers! It is fun to occasionally look at other things than our current problems with pandemic and politics. We are catching up on watching the series Downton Abbey available on Peacock. We have already voted and are hoping for better days ahead. Do stay safe up there! We are still doing all we can in that respect.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 17, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy Woods, for choosing this article to give your mind a little break from all the problems in this world.

With the militias terrorizing people, matters seem only to be getting worse. And yes, the SCOTUS nominee promises no let up on the multiplying problems in this country.

Hope you will not give up on taking the necessary steps to stay safe and that one day soon, everything will improve. Take care . . .

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 11, 2020:

It is a welcome diversion to focus on other things once in a while than politics, although with the election looming ahead, it is hard to escape. These sociable weavers are pretty little birds.

As to COVID-19, my nieces son-in-law now has gastroparesis after contracting the virus. It is incurable! Yes, there will be many long-lasting effects affecting people's health from this pandemic, for those who survive. We will certainly need to have pre-existing health conditions insured and not stripped away from insurance coverage.

Take care and stay healthy!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 07, 2020:

Thank you for coming by, Peggy Woods. Yes, just look at the demonstrators marching frequently of late because they believe it is unconstitutional for our government to try to save us from the horrors of the Coronavirus. Some people may have an easier time than others with it, but I have read about some of the seemingly side effects of the disease and it's awful. News agencies should talk about them more.

I think these demonstrators who march with their guns so that they can shoot the tiny viruses if they dare to appear (what other reason for bringing their guns?), should study constitutional law for a while. The government has the right to protect citizens from real dangers and to even force vaccines if scientists believe it will be in the safety interests of most people.

Don't know why so many people fail to realize that all of our rights and freedoms have limitations depending on the circumstances. No one has the right to endanger another person's life or long term health.

Hope you are staying healthy and safe . . .

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2020:

What you said about the sociability of birds getting along better than some people is so true. We could learn from them! I hope you are well and staying safe.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 17, 2019:

Peggy Woods, thank you for continued interest in this article. In addition to their unique nests, I think their sociability is interesting. Several birds share the same nest and somehow manage to get along better than many people in the same apartment building.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 15, 2019:

Even though I have previously read this article and viewed the photos, I am amazed at the nests that these birds create. Time to share this once again.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 30, 2018:

Peggy Woods, thank you for shedding light on this article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2018:

Since many of us will never get to see a sociable weaver bird in person, it is my pleasure to share this once again to introduce this interesting bird to others.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 22, 2016:

Shyron, thank you for visiting and sharing! What a great little poem you whipped up. I could never have come up with something like that in a year much less how quickly I'm betting you did it. Excellent! And thank you for the poem too!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 20, 2016:

The Social Weavers build and breed

In a communal nest of grass and weeds

Woven nests that are not weaved

As strong as any home can be

Big and tall

For the song birds of the desert’s Carnegie Hall

*

Blessings my dear friend

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 20, 2016:

The Social Weavers build and breed

In a communal nest of grass and weeds

Woven nests that are not weaved

As strong as any home can be

Big and tall

For the song birds of the desert’s Carnegie Hall

*

Sharing this again

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 29, 2016:

Peggy W., thank you for commenting and sharing this article! I love to bird watch too, and I miss not having my wild critters to feed in my backyard.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 23, 2016:

Colorfulone, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. So glad you enjoyed it!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 18, 2016:

Always fun sharing this article. I spotted what I thought were ducks in Hermann Park the other day and upon research found out that they were American Coots. We also spotted a Nutria swimming towards us in the water! Fun spotting things like that especially in the middle of a large city like Houston. Having a hard time identifying the other ducks that I photographed. So far no luck on the Internet.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on February 17, 2016:

I had heard the name, Sociable Weavers but that's about it. This is so interesting to learn about the birds and their incredible nests. They are adorable birds. Love this hub!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 04, 2016:

aesta1, thank you for commenting! Good to see you again. You'll just have to go back to Africa and be sure to go to the right part of it. These nests really are something, aren't they?

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 31, 2016:

What a nest that is. I wish I knew of this when we went to Africa. I would have loved to see this.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 15, 2015:

AudreyHowitt, thank you for taking time to read and comment!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 14, 2015:

DDE, good to see you! Thank you for your comment. So glad you enjoyed!

Audrey Howitt from California on October 13, 2015:

Fascinating article! Birds are so interesting! I had no idea that this kind of behavior among them existed--

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 12, 2015:

A fascinating read with such lovely photos.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 10, 2015:

AliciaC, thank you for reading, and for commenting on this article. Glad you enjoyed!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 07, 2015:

What a fascinating bird! Thanks for creating such an interesting article and for sharing the lovely photos.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 29, 2015:

Moonlake, thank you for reading and commenting and for the pin! Glad you enjoyed this article!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 27, 2015:

Peggy W., thank you for commenting and sharing this article! I hope you and your husband to get the chance to go and see these nests first hand. What a great article you could write when you got home! And I know the photos would be great, too.

moonlake from America on September 26, 2015:

Interesting birds, they are very pretty and their bills remind me of grosbeak bills. Shared with Pinterest.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2015:

I just find this subject fascinating! Sharing this once again so that more people can learn about the amazing nests that the sociable weavers construct. It would be fun to take an African safari someday and see things like this firsthand. Nice dream! Ha!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 19, 2015:

You're welcome Suj. Thanks for coming by!

sujaya venkatesh on September 18, 2015:

thanks for the info about the feathered weavers Au

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 08, 2015:

Ladyguitarpicker, thank you for reading and commenting on this article! The swallow-tailed kites used to be in Texas and there is a count underway to determine if they are still here or have disappeared from Texas. Check Texas Parks and Wildlife for swallow-tailed kites for more info.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on September 07, 2015:

Au fait, I have never seen a nest that big. The birds are very cute and do look a little like a sorry mind does not work. I would have to say they are very interesting and I would love to see them. I try and study as many as the birds I can here in Fl. My favorite bird to watch is the American Swallow - tailed Kite. They are so amazing, do you have them in Texas? I will ask my son who is in San Angelo. Have a great day, shared, great article.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on August 21, 2015:

Patricia (pstraubie48), so good to hear from you again! Glad you could stop by. I hope all is well with you also, and thank you for the angels.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 18, 2015:

Hi Aufait just stopping by to say hey. As with each of us much is happening so I have not been on here much. I am always glad when I do have time to return.

Hoping all is good with you and yours. Angels and blessings and hugs and all are headed your way ps

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 17, 2015:

Mary615, thank you for reading and commenting on this article. Also for the votes and the share! Yes, they do have to be able to get along and people seem to have trouble with that even within families -- maybe I should say especially within families. Glad you enjoyed!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 16, 2015:

Peggy W, you are right in that branches have given way at times from the weight. After one of their heavy rains the nests weigh even more as they soak up a lot of water and water is heavy. Thought I put that in the text, but I couldn't find it so I guess I need to update it already!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 16, 2015:

Poetryman6969, thank you for reading and commenting on this article! The 'Survivor' competitor must have been worse than a city boy -- doesn't he know that birds don't keep food in their nests? Or was he planning to steal their eggs and eat them raw? After all the work they put in building and maintaining their nests, I hope he didn't mess it up.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 16, 2015:

Sounds like we humans could take a lesson from these birds. They just all work together to create and maintain their home. Very interesting article; I'd never heard of these birds before.

Voted UP and shared.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 15, 2015:

Patricia (pstraubie48), thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this article. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

This article was a snap to write compared to most of my articles. There isn't much to write about except the facts on this subject, but most of my articles are so much more complicated. It took me about 6 hours to write this one and most of that time was searching for photos and uploading to HP.

The new article I just published this morning took me 4 hours from start to finish including uploading it to HP. I have an article I've been working on for over a year on the subject of IQ. It's about 3/4 done finally. I haven't even started looking for photos.

If only this paid better I could do it full time because it really needs full time attention what with keeping the published articles up to date as well as writing new ones.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 14, 2015:

drbj, thank you for reading and commenting on this article! So glad you enjoyed it. Yes these nests are nothing short of fantastic and yes they have caused the branches that hold them up to break sometimes, especially after a rain that adds weight to the nest.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 14, 2015:

Yes, those nests are amazing! As heavy as they get, I am sure some branches probably eventually topple under that weight. Pinning this to my birds board. The sociable weavers really are a pretty little bird.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 14, 2015:

What fascinating birds and what unbelievable nests they build - as tall as ten feet high? They are the architects of the species. Thanks for enhancing my knowledge of them.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 14, 2015:

Peggy W., Thank you for reading and commenting on this article and so glad you enjoyed! These nests are something, aren't they?

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 13, 2015:

Larry Rankin, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts and for your kind words I appreciate them very much. Glad you enjoyed this hub!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 13, 2015:

Shyron, thank you for taking time to read and comment on this article, also for the votes and the share. Glad you enjoyed!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 12, 2015:

Whonunuwho, thank you for reading and commenting on this article and for your kind words. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

poetryman6969 on July 11, 2015:

Very interesting and detailed information. Voted up.

I seem to remember someone from one of those survival shows seeing if he could find anything to eat in the nest but he had no luck as I recall.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 11, 2015:

Diogenes, Bobby, good to see you again! I did in fact learn much about these birds from the BBC presentation which is still online. Appreciate your taking time to read and comment. Glad you enjoyed!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 11, 2015:

How very interesting these birds are. And the boomslang is gorgeous.

I wonder if you are ever nervous about writing on topics such as this It is clear that you do extensive research but just wonder if you find it a bit challenging to write on topics such as this.. That challenge may just be what keeps you doing it!!! Excellent Voted up++++ AuFait

drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 11, 2015:

Fascinating information and great photos about these birds, Au fait. Those nests are gigantic and seem to defy gravity. Thanks for this amazing hub.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 11, 2015:

Mary (Tillsontitan), thank you for taking time to check out this article and for the votes. When I first saw them entirely by chance, I thought there was something wrong with the trees. What a surprise to discover those huge nests. Glad you enjoyed!.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2015:

I always enjoy learning new things about the birds and other animals on our planet earth. Thanks for introducing me to this cute little bird that builds those huge communal nests. I have never seen anything like it! Up votes and definitely sharing.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 10, 2015:

Billybuc, thank you for coming by and for your high praise. Always good to see you. Glad you enjoyed!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 10, 2015:

You always find the coolest stuff from our natural world.

Many of these nests seem to defy physics. I could never build anything like that. Amazing.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 09, 2015:

Au fait, what a fascinating hub. I have never heard of these birds before.

thumb-up ABI and shared

I am sorry things did not go very well for you yesterday.

Blessings and Hugs dear friend.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 09, 2015:

Kristen Howe, thank you for taking time to read and comment on this article and of the votes. So glad you enjoyed it!

whonunuwho from United States on July 09, 2015:

Very interesting work and well appreciated. whonu

whonunuwho from United States on July 09, 2015:

This is a great article and photos about a very special bird of Africa. I appreciate all work about birds and wildlife in general. As an artist and writer, I often include my subjects of the wild in my work posted. I appreciate your other works as well, and find them amazing in their content and variety of interesting subject matter. Thank you for sharing this nice work. whonu

diogenese on July 09, 2015:

I was aware of these having seen a BBC program some years ago. Fascinating birds. Maybe you should do an article containing all the birds who continue using the same nest for generations, like some storks, etc.

A good read and nice pics.

Bob x

Mary Craig from New York on July 09, 2015:

What a strange nest and beautiful little bird! I'd never seen that nest before and it follows I'd never heard of the bird. Nature is so amazing!

I can't fathom a birds' nest weighing in at a ton.

It's very generous of these birds to share their nest with others. Thanks for sharing this.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 09, 2015:

I always enjoy articles about nature and the environment. Thank you for adding to my education with a fine article.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 09, 2015:

This was a very useful hub about birds making nests in Africa. I loved the photos with this fact-packed knowledgeable hub with some interesting tidbits. Voted up for useful!