The Giant Communal Bird Nests of Sociable Weavers
Sociable Weavers (Philetairus socius) are a species of bird endemic to Southern Africa. They are best known for their gigantic communal nests, which are not only a rarity, but also the largest built by any bird. The nests, designed for year-round usage, can house up to 100 families, totaling 300-400 birds. Some nests have even remained occupied for over 100 years!
Not unlike a bee’s honeycomb, the communal nest consists of different chambers, entrances and tunnels. They are made of various materials like twigs, dry grasses, straw and soft plant material. The sociable weavers build these massive communal nests for a variety of reasons:
– Deserts have extreme temperature changes. During the day it keeps the chambers cool and at night it insulates
– The communal nests also attract other birds like the pygmy falcon, pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit and even vultures, owls and eagles may roost on the nests’ broad roof. More residents = more eyes watching out for danger from predators like snakes
– With so many families in a communal setting, new chicks receive help from multiple sources and even juvenile weavers will provide food for younger siblings
In a series entitled Assimilation, photographer Dillon Marsh spent three days in the Kalahari Desert near the South African town of Upington to photograph these gigantic communal nests. You can find the entire 12-picture gallery on his website as well as Behance.
– San Diego Zoo: Sociable Weavers
– Wikipedia: Sociable Weavers
– BBC Wildlife: Social weaver birds nest in a tree in Africa – David Attenborough
– Scientific American: Why Sociable Weavers Nest Together
– Huffington Post: World’s Largest Bird Nests – Photographer Dillon Marsh Snaps Social Weaver Homes In South Africa
– First spotted on: Neatorama
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