Busy as a Weaver

When we moved to South Africa, one of the first things that caught my eye was this pretty little yellow and black-faced bird who was living in this intricately woven nest just outside our hotel near Montecasino.  I soon learned this bird was a Southern Masked Weaver, a fairly common bird here in South Africa.

Southern Masked Weaver at PilanesbergA cheeky Southern Masked Weaver at Pilanesberg trying to steal our lunch

Jump ahead a couple weeks to our new apartment in Pineslopes and I was thrilled to discover our very own Southern Masked Weaver living right over our carport.  I mentioned in my earlier post about my garden that I would dedicate a separate post to this special bird, so here it is.  We quickly became quite attached to this adorable little bird. When we first moved in, there was only one nest but soon there was a second. And a third !  I started reading some more and learned that it is the male weaver that builds the nests to attract one or more females.  I read that one bird can make up to 25 nests.  We started placing bets as to how many nests there would be by the time we moved out at the end of January.

My Weaver WeavingMy Weaver Weaving

Weaver Colony at Marakele Park-the nests look a bit sloppy compared to my birds' nestsWeaver Colony at Marakele Park

The building continued. Four. Five. Six nests.  One every 6 days or so, we were completely fascinated by our little guy.  Yannick left for a week in Europe and I gave him daily updates on our bird.  One day I saw a little brown head peeking out of the largest nest, our bird had finally found a mate !  We were so excited hoping to see baby weavers before we would have to move.  I was almost certain that I heard little bitty peep peeps coming from the nest at one point, but I couldn’t be sure.

Working on Nest #4Working on Nest #4

Our Weaver's Short-term GirlfriendOur Weaver’s Short-term Girlfriend

Then it all changed.  One morning as we were leaving for work I stopped to check on our weaver and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  Our little bird was frantically ripping apart one of his nests and by the time I returned in the evening, all the nests were gone except for the latest one.  I was almost in tears.  Where was the female, I hadn’t seen her around in a couple days.  Something must have really gone wrong.

Back to the internet, I learned that while the male builds the nests, the female has the final say as to whether or not the nests are worthy to house her and her offspring.  If the nest is rejected, the male will rip it apart, usually to make room to rebuild on exactly the same branches.  And that is just what our little bird did.  Two.  Three nests.  But I never saw the female back again, we felt so bad for our hard-working little bird.  The last photos I took of our bird were at the end of January, right before moving out.  He was back up to 5 nests.


Last photo I took before moving, back to 5 nestsLast photo I took before moving, back to 5 nests

We moved into our new place in Lonehill Feb 1.  I was sad to leave our little bird and I still wonder if he ever found a new mate and could take a break from weaving his nests.  We were excited to find a new weaver living in our garden, albeit with a different work ethic. This new bird only builds one nest at a time, leaving the nest up for about a week and then tearing it down to start over, usually on a Sunday for some reason.  He executed this routine 3 or 4 times and now it seems he has relocated to a different tree in the neighborhood.  We still see him and a female (always saw her in the garden but never in his nest) around, usually at our bird feeder but we cannot be sure if they are an official couple yet.  Hopefully one day they will move back to our tree (they realllly like our new bird feeder so maybe that will lure them) but in the meantime we will keep stocking up on bird seed and hope for some new feathered friends.

Our new birdOur new bird, creating the base of his nest

New female, hopefully this couple will last longer than the firstNew female, hopefully this couple will last longer than the first

4 thoughts on “Busy as a Weaver

  1. Great article, but that darn little bird gives us females a bad name by rejecting the nests if not to her liking. We aren’t all like that are we ?


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