Most birds build a nest for one breeding season only. Sociable weavers use and maintain their nests for ages. One huge nest is weaved for the entire colony.
These giant grassy apartment blocks put up with several hundred noisy, restless tenants all year round. Some nests have been thought to last over a century.
The massive hanging haystacks (that can be up to 4 metres high and 7 metres long) begin to appear as one approaches Upington in the Northern Cape. Telephone poles seem to teeter under the weight of them…some have collapsed and lie dead along road verges.
Tunnels of up to 25 cm long and 7 cm wide end in snug nesting chambers lined with soft fur or fluff. The chambers are so well insulated that as the mercury soars and plummets outside, the air within stays constant all year…
There are often a couple of cheeky non-paying guests at Hotel Weaver….the Pygmy Falcon, chats and finches – many come to enjoy the free, cosy nesting chambers. Some really presumptuous raptors may even consider the nest a handy and convenient platform upon which to roost.
This sleek, suave and very long chap was one of the less welcome guests. He dropped by for a sumptuous breakfast…
‘I’ll have a dozen eggs with my weaver chicks this morning, thank you waiter…’