Masked Weavers. Are they really master nest builders ?

10 Jan

Bookings are now open for the RFCG Weaver,widow and whydah EcoTour to South Africa and Botswana in Nov / Dec 2013.The Masked Weaver ( Ploceus velatus ) certainly isn’t a rare and threatened finch. In Southern Africa it is one of the most common birds to be seen. But the above 4 minute video footage is very rare and interesting to look at because it gives us some insights to what we may not have known before. In December yours truly was lucky enough to capture, on video, a Masked Weaver building his nest.( These little birds are sometimes also referred to as Southern Masked Weavers ) As we know in the world of finches many of us believe the Masked Weaver to be the ultimate master nest builder ( or is he really? ). We also know that his hen will inspect the nest first before she will finally accept him as a mate. The above footage shows a Masked Weaver building his nest from start to finish.

Filming the Masked Weaver during a light drizzle

Filming the Masked Weaver during a light drizzle

Some interesting behind the scenes facts that our supporters may enjoy. The footage filmed was done over a 10 day period. The camera was locked off on a tripod during this time and a total of 20 hours of video material was filmed to make the eventual 4 minute video clip. During the 10 day period no less than 5 nests were built and destroyed on the exact same branch.( Some were built and destroyed quicker than others, depending on how much the hen was distracting him at the time, and if it was raining quite hard. He would continue to build even if it was a light drizzle ). On average each nest took a full day and a bit to build and he could destroy it in 2 to 3 hours. The reference books will sometimes tell us that the hen will destroy the nests, but that happens only when she has used the nest. Sometimes at the end of the breeding season many of these nests are left behind and used by other birds.  

 If you look very carefully, at the YouTube video clip, you will see that not all the footage is of the exact same nest being built. In some instances the nest is slightly further away from the 3 leaves at the end of the branch than in others.The film footage of all 5 nests under construction was used in the final edit to give the impression that it is the same nest being built from start to finish. By having the camera in the locked off position, on a tripod, it allowed one to match dissolve the video footage. What is even more interesting is when I stopped filming to go on holiday for 10 days and then came back, guess what ?…The poor little guy was still building and destroying nests. That means in total he may have built 10, or even more nests, and eventually worked out that he may have chosen the wrong location… or perhaps the wrong profession, or even worse after all that hard work did he simply sing out of tune ?
For more info on the 2013 RFCG EcoTour contact Russell Kingston at or Eelco Meyjes at
                                   SEE – CONSERVE – ENJOY

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