Weaving weavers – Some interesting facts

Weaving is not only found in art and design. It can also be seen in the wonderful aspect of Weaver bird nests.
They are not known as weavers for nothing. Most amazing part of them weaving their nests is the fact that they use their conical beak or bill to cut the different material, make knots to secure the grass or other material and weave these amazing architectural structures for their breeding purposes. There are worldwide 108 different species of Weavers, and 24 species are found in Southern Africa. They are most famous for their amazing weaving skills as can be seen in the figure below. These nests are intricately woven in different sizes and shapes with a downward facing entrance. Not only is the woven nest their breeding ground but is the means in which a male will attract the female. After he has finished building his prized nest, he will call the female to come see his handywork as she will ultimately decide if the nest will do and if not, the male will have to build a new one until her specific standards are met.

The most common Weaver seen around Cape Town is the Cape Weaver. These birds are sometimes found in colonies alongside other weaver species and have a fairly larger nest and they are also more densely woven than other species.
They will build a few nests in their territory of the colony and the ones that are not fit for a “queen” will be replaced by a new nest. The Southern Masked Weaver is commonly found in South Africa and has amazing skills and perseverance when building their nests until the female is satisfied. Their nests are mostly built-in trees, and the male will build a succession of nests, ranging from 10 to up to 52 nests per season. He uses strips of grass, reed, or palm to build his structure and his weaving skills will determine a mate for breeding and also if he will finish the nest. If she is not happy, he will have to demolish the nest and start all over.

Other interesting species found in South Africa is the Thick-billed Weaver and they build their nests in a
different way due to where they breed and are found. These species are commonly found closer to water and
thus make their nests in reedbeds mostly. They fuse a few reeds together and then build their nest with roots,
fine stems, or creepers. The angle of the entrance to their nest is also differently angled than other weavers.
Another difference is that both the male and female species assist in building the nest, meaning less dissatisfied females. Other species called Sociable Weavers are also found in South Africa and they live in larger colonies together and do not only use their nests during the breeding season but throughout the year. These nests are usually built in a large tree or mostly seen on poles and can have as many as 500 chambers within the large, thatched nest.

I think that human takes inspiration from nature to building their own homes and structures and most
definitely in art. We all use some practices in nature to create and make it our own.
In particular, Porkey Hefer, wo makes ‘human nests’ and weaver Aaron Mtombeli. Their inspiration and
artwork can be seen at the 100 BASKET exhibition and Southern Guild
See more here: https://www.animal-farm.co.za/