Sociable weaver

The bird with the gigantic heritage nest

Yathin S Krishnappa

A fascinating bird native to the arid regions of Africa, where it is renowned for its intricate nests and unique social behavior. Despite its small size, this bird boasts a distinctive appearance, characterized by brown plumage adorned with a scaly pattern on its back and flanks, along with a sandy rump and a prominent bib. Its cryptic coloration allows it to blend seamlessly into its desert surroundings, providing camouflage from potential predators.

Found primarily in open arid regions, the Sociable weaver is closely associated with the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, where it is distributed across northwest South Africa, southern to southwestern Botswana, and parts of Namibia. These birds are highly adaptable and capable of thriving in harsh desert environments where food and water resources may be scarce.

Sociable weavers are opportunistic feeders, primarily subsisting on a diet of grains and insects that they forage for on the ground. During the breeding season, they supplement their diet with insects to provide essential nutrients for their nestlings. Interestingly, unlike most other bird species, Sociable weavers construct permanent, communal nests that can house hundreds of individuals and persist for generations. These massive structures serve as a testament to the species’ remarkable cooperative behavior and social organization.

Breeding in Sociable weavers is entirely dependent on rainfall, with multiple broods being raised per year during periods of sufficient precipitation. This reliance on rainfall for breeding highlights the species’ adaptation to the unpredictable desert climate, where water availability fluctuates seasonally.

The communal nature of Sociable weaver nests provides numerous benefits, including improved thermoregulation and protection from predators. By nesting together in large colonies, individuals can share warmth during cold desert nights and collectively defend against threats from predators such as snakes and birds of prey.


Population est.
South Africa

Did you know?

  • These colonial nesting birds use trees or man-made structures (like poles) for building nests.
  • Nesting material can weigh up to 1 tonne.
  • Nest chambers are thermoregulated and are repaired and maintained regularly.
  • Many symbiotic associations can be observed with other birds, like the African Pygmy Falcon (Africa’s smallest falcon) at the nesting sight; they share nests with other birds too.

Anything we've missed?

Help us improve this page by suggesting edits. Glory never dies!

Suggest an edit

Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No