Though this bird is as normal to Africa as a robin or sparrow is where I grew up in the US, it always feels special to me when I spy a weaver. There are a number of different kinds of weavers found in southern Africa, each with their own unique look and building style. (Because of this great variety, I am not picturing the birds here, but their diversity of markings can be found easily by doing a google search for "weaver birds.")
All weavers are petite finch-like birds known for leaving their mark on their habitat. Using grass stems and plant fibers, these birds weave incredible nests wherever they go. Though these nests vary according to the kind of weaver, all of the nests are built to form an enclosed nesting chambers that protects the birds and offspring during storms and at night. These homes offer the birds a stable climate free fromthe hot day temperatures and cold night temperatures of the dry climates they live in.
Most weavers create nests for individual nuclear families:
(These nests sit next to Lake Chivero, Zimbabwe.)
(And these are in my back yard.)
(These sit along the side of a creek at Lake Chivero National Park.)
(Here is one just outside of our hotel room while staying in Johannesburg.)
But some weavers in Africa are known as social weavers. These birds make an "apartment house." Creating nests with sometimes up to 300 rooms, these birds cooperate to maintain thatched roof homes that can get up to 25 feet wide. The incredible thing is that some of these colonies have been documented to last for over one hundred years- talk about some of nature's ultimate architects and artists!