In the Kalahari Desert, South Africa, native weaver birds build massive nests that from a distance look like a giant haystack stuck in a tree. These nests are often nested in trees, or utility poles that carry telephone wires. From these, birds create a structure with large sticks and then build walls of dry grasses to create separate rooms and floors, where each nest chamber is lined with softer grasses and fibers. Bunches of straw protect the entrance tunnels from predators. These nests are the largest built by any bird and are large enough to house over a hundred pairs of birds. Some particularly durable weaver nests have remained occupied for several generations spanning over 100 years.
Weaver nests are highly structured and provide birds with a more comfortable temperature relative to the outside. The central chambers retain heat and are used for nighttime roosting. Outside rooms are used for daytime coolness and maintain temperatures of 7–8 degrees Celsius inside while outside temperatures can range from 16–33 degrees Celsius.
Birds have acquired the status of “social” not because they live in large colonies, but because they are known to share their nests with several other species including owls, vultures, eagles, red-headed finches, ashy tits, and many more. Weaver birds are always ready to welcome guests. More residents means more eyes watching for danger. And weavers often learn from other birds where new sources of food can be found.
This beautiful photo series called Assimilation was created by photographer Dillon Marsh.