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'. . . we call it home'.

'. . . we call it home'.
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-10-19
Categories: Birds, Desert
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon 24-70 mm f 2,8 L-USM
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/200 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Travelogue: Namibia
Theme(s): TN Favourites [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-12-05 8:22
Viewed: 5198
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 42
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Todays offereing is a Socialable Weaver's nest. I will post a couple of additional shots in the workshop to give a better impression of the dimensions.

For anyone watching a flock of sociable weavers skitter along the sand in search of insects and seeds, it is difficult to imagine that this sparrow-sized, drab brown creature with the black beard could possibly be "one of the ten most interesting birds in the world," as Gordon Maclean, author of Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, has labeled it. But to lie under one of their sprawling nests and peer up into a honeycomb of a hundred straw chambers held together without mortar of any kind is to behold one of the ornithological wonders of the world. And to study the mousy little bird is to learn some of the natural world's most astonishing lessons of cooperation--a level of overly efficient teamwork that sometimes earns the sociable weaver the wrath of the people who share its Kalahari habitat.

The virtues of the sociable weaver's extraordinary architectural structures are appreciated by other denizens of the Kalahari as well. Lovebirds, barbets, tits and finches warm themselves in the cozy chambers built by the weavers. Vultures, owls, eagles and even geese find the weavers' roof a ready-to-use nesting platform. The pygmy falcon in southern Africa depends entirely on sociable weaver nests for breeding. And to honey badgers, cobras and large-eyed tree snakes called boomslangs, the nest is a dependable larder.

For the weavers, the nest's chief benefit is as an insulator against frigid winter nights. Three American scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles used temperature probes and found that even as the night air plummeted from 63 degrees F to freezing, an occupied chamber in a large nest never fell below 61 degrees. The team, led by physiologist Fred White, calculated that the warm nest cuts the sociable weaver's energy consumption by 40 percent compared to roosting in the open, as most birds do. To burn those extra calories, a colony of 150 weavers with no nest would have to catch and eat 4,500 more insects each day.

Saving energy also helps the birds save water, a resource even more precious than food in the Kalahari, where some areas receive only three inches of rain each year. Sociable weavers need less water, ounce for ounce, than any other bird known to science--not even a teaspoon a day per bird. Most never drink at all, deriving the bulk of their moisture from eating juicy harvester termites, their favorite food.

It is this same dry climate that makes their toasty home possible in the first place. In a wetter environment, the mass of vegetation would decompose. Not here. Many sociable weaver nests have lasted well over a century.

Despite their dropped-haystack appearance, the structures have a sophisticated architecture, with different materials for different purposes. The birds interlock large twigs to form the strong roof and wedge dry grasses into the insulating bulk of the nest. A breeding pair lines the cup inside its nest chamber with soft grass flowers and other fluffies, and uses green grass to mold a firm ridge at the lip of the cup that will keep eggs from rolling out. The tunnel that leads down from each chamber is armed with sharp spikes of straw that make reaching into a nest a painful experience.

Unlike most birds that build temporary nests exclusively for breeding, sociable weavers use and maintain their nests throughout the year. Their nest-building instinct is so strong that when no new chambers are needed, they will fill in a perfectly usable chamber and build a new one below it. The largest nests extend well over 20 feet from side to side and several feet high, containing more than 100 individual chambers. Sometimes, the weight of the giant nests breaks branches and even knocks down entire trees. "Their only problem is they don't know when to stop," notes Nardus Du Plessis, a ranger with the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a vast conservation area jointly managed by South Africa and Botswana.

Even more interesting than the nest itself is the teamwork required to build it. For three breeding seasons, Rita Covas, a Portuguese ornithologist, and her French colleague Claire Doutrelant have regularly visited 18 colonies on a large game farm near Kimberley, South Africa. They probe nests to record the contents of each individually marked chamber and monitor the feeding of chicks from a blind. When Pink-Over-Dark-Green (named for the colored leg bands Covas has affixed) enters Nest 5 in Colony 5, for instance, Covas knows that it is a one-year-old feeding its siblings--a common occurrence. (From International Wildlife).

uleko, bahadir, ferranjlloret, nglen, jaycee, Dis. Ac., BobH, xTauruSx, Royaldevon, maurydv, boreocypriensis, eqshannon, darwin, Evelynn, manyee, CeltickRanger has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To BobH: ThanksJamesp 1 12-08 01:47
To eqshannon: ThanksJamesp 1 12-08 01:46
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-12-05 8:42]

Hello James,
A very special photo of this Sociable Weaver's nests. Always very impressive. It's very nice to see some birds around the nests. The photo is very sharp and made in a good composition. I also like the photos in the workshops.

hello James,
nice picture of this birds nest
very sharp
i kie that
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-12-05 9:05]

Hello James,
A great capture of this enormous Weavers' nest! Very interesting and I wonder how many inhabit this great creation? They're not the kind of Weavers' nests we're used to seeing. I like your POV and the fine details and colours. Fine capture in the Workshop too!Thanks for showing this and the interesting note!
Best wishes, Ulla

Great capture of a weaver's nest on the tree James.
TFS and regards, bahadır

Hi James,
Extraordinary and magnificent document!!!!!!
Very goog shot!

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-12-05 10:37]

Hi James. This as you say in your very interesting notes must be one off natures wonders. I must admit i have never seen any thing like this before so a BIG THANKS FOR POSTING . Your picture give a good view and idea of the texture and colour of the chamber. well done TFS.
Nick.. Have a nice weekend.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-12-05 11:59]

Hi James,

I have never seen anything like this. These Sociable Weavers don't build nests - they build houses or even apartment houses. Just amazing. Your pictures and notes are just wonderful. The workshops are equally as fascinating. All are excellent views and I certainly learned my new thing for the day.


Hi James
Excelent photograph!!
Technically perfect and very informative.
With the workshop photos it gives the idea of whole nest.
The scale of this nest is amazing.
Thanks for presenting

Hi James,

An inpressive colony nest from the weavers.
Beautiful colours and nice pov.
Good notes.


Hello James
Very nice shots of this nest with nice details and sharpness. Also nice composition TFS.

  • Great 
  • BobH Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 40 W: 8 N: 192] (650)
  • [2008-12-05 13:26]
  • [+]

Hi James-

Super shot of one of the most bizarre social behaviors I've heard of in the animal world (it can be difficult to show someone with a zoology degree an example of animal behavior which is both weird and new, but you've done it). EO Wilson's ants have nothing on these crazy obsessive birds.

Excellent use of the extra frames in the workshop to put it into the proper perspective. Exceptional note- very helpful understanding the strangeness of the images.

Best regards,


Incredibly interesting, James!
Explicit notes and extra shots in w/s, I am obliged!
Sharp, detailed and well composed. I particularly like the shot in the w/s which shows the tree and helps to set the nests in context.

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

Ciao James,
straordinaria documentazione di questi spettacolari nidi dalla struttura impressionante per complessitÓ architettonica, un eccellente lavoro fotografico anche le belle immagini in WS.

Hi Brother James, it is nice to see a nest of a weaver ın a fine composition and details. Each shot are great.
TFS and have a nice weekend!


Hi James,
Very interesting capture of this Sociable Weaver's nest site. Good sharpnes, composition, colours, interesting details.

You are perhaps one of the best, if not the best teachers on TN. Your works are amazing both in photography and in notes...and in the/your ability to travel to locations you know about beforehand or have studied or visited prior...You are an amazing man James...I am privileged to have a couple of your masterpieces on my wall.....My grandkids love them....seriously it is a wonder..We point them out to everyone who enters....you are a good man at heart and a well educated man who has suffered. I think the most creative people have followed Carl Jungs advice to a client..when asked for help from him he said " go through it...not out of it..." I think he was saying there was no magic but only the cross to bear if you will and when it is all said and done...you have conquered the greatest challenge of all...which is only known to you ...!

  • Great 
  • darwin Gold Star Critiquer [C: 259 W: 0 N: 403] (1401)
  • [2008-12-05 20:04]

Hi James
Fascinating shot which shows great detail and a array of different textures in the nest.fantastic notes.
tfs jon

Hi James,

From the thumbnail I had no clue as to what this was. Now that I've opened it up, I am stunned and almost as baffled. I've never seen anything like this. I had no idea that weaver birds made whole apartment houses!! I have to agree... they don't know when to stop! This is a great post and all three are wonderful sharp images. Thanks for another lesson!

Evelynn ; )

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-12-06 10:33]

Fascinating, James!
Nature never ceases to amaze.
You are showing this interesting construction from an excellent perspective and with sharp details.
TFS. : )

hello James

excellent documentary shot Socialable Weaver's nest,
excellent sharpness and details, i love the rich colours,
specially the one close-up in WS, here in TN,
and with your photos too, i am learning thins about nature, TFS


  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-12-07 14:06]

I think these nest that Weevers make are incredible! How on earth did they evolve to be able to create such amazing constructions... without opposable thumbs!! :-D
Very detailed capture.
Perfectly exposed.
Great composition.

Well done,

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