Weaver nests on man-made sites

Sociable Weaver nest on telephone pole


Weavers usually nest on trees, in reeds or grass. Increasingly, some weaver species are also nesting on man-made structures. Some of the main structures that are used are:

  • fences
  • telephone wires and poles
  • pylons and windmills
  • roof edges of buildings

PHOtos of Weaver Nests (PHOWN), is a Virtual Museum, citizen science project based at the University of Cape Town, to collect and monitor breeding distributions and colony sizes of weaver birds globally.

Please submit your photos of weaver nests on man-made sites to the Virtual Museum (VM). To take part, register your email on the VM site, and then upload your photos with date and locality details (read the “How to” pdf on the VM site for guidelines on uploading).

Southern Masked Weaver nests on fence
Red-headed Weaver nests on telephone line 
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver nest on pylon 

Sociable Weaver nest under roof edge of farm building


Patterns of nest site use

The PHOWN database shows some interesting patterns of nest sites used by weavers by comparing use of trees, reeds, or man-made sites:

  • Four species nest in all 3 types of sites, the Lesser Masked Weaver, Southern Masked Weaver, Cape Weaver and Village Weaver, although the majority of colonies are in trees (>80% in all 4 species).
  • Man-made nest sites may be the most secure sites against predators (if the nests are not molested by humans) and against wind.
  • Species with the highest proportion of nests on man-made sites were the Red-headed Weaver (24%), Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver (19%) and Sociable Weaver (11%). These are species that normally nest in trees and never in reeds.


Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.