Did You Know That Some Birds Can Weave?
In the family of Ploceidae, there are multiple species of weaverbirds. As their name suggests, these birds can weave their nests on upper branches of trees. Weaverbirds are mainly found in Asia, Australia, and sub-Saharan Africa.
A weaverbird nest is easily recognizable for its shape–a round enclosure, sometimes with a long entrance, that looks a lot like a tunnel. In the wild, the entrances protect the nest from tree snakes. Each nest can host up to two adult birds and their eggs. Some weaver species build nests together in the same tree, like an apartment building, that can reach 16 feet across!
These examples of weaverbird nests are all part of our oology collection.
Imagine tying your shoes or making a slip knot without using your thumbs. Using their beaks and feet, birds are able to create ornate and fully functional nests. Most birds do some twisting, winding, and manipulation of materials, but weaverbirds intentionally tie knots and weave grasses.
Weavers Dig Green
The male weaverbird builds his nest (or multiple nests) to woo females. The tighter and greener the weave of his nest, the better his odds! Since all of the nests turn brown in a matter of days, a nest’s greenness doesn’t make it structurally superior. So, why the preference?
Males aren’t born knowing that green appeals to females. Over time, they learn and become more selective at picking grasses. This preference for green could just be a way for females to find the older, more experienced males.
Let’s Weave Like a Bird
What you need:
- Rubber balloon
- Multi-purpose white glue
- Paint brush
- Dry grass and soft sticks (alternatively you can use ribbons)
- Tweezers (optional)
- A tree branch (optional)
Step 1: Inflate a small rubber balloon, about the size of a softball. Tie a knot at the end.
Step 2: Collect enough dry grass or very soft wooden sticks to cover the entire surface of your balloon. Alternatively, you can also use a thin ribbon, cut into small pieces about 3 feet long.
Step 3: Pour some glue and water in equal parts in a cup and mix. With a paint brush, start covering a portion of the surface of the balloon with the glue mixture and apply on top your grass and sticks, or ribbon pieces. You can even try to apply materials on the balloon surface using tweezers to simulate a bird using their beak and feet to build the nest. Make sure to leave a hole around the knot you tied to close the balloon (for size, imagine a small bird using it). Let dry overnight.
Step 4: Once your nest is dry, cut the knot with scissors to deflate the balloon and remove any rubber residue. You can also attach your nest to a wooden branch with hot glue. Your nest is ready!