Weaver nest project

Close up photos of weaver nests are needed for a project looking at the design of weaver nests. For this project, it helps to be certain of the species of weaver that built the nest.

Species: any species in the family Ploceidae (species list).

Locality: weavers are found in Africa, many Indian Ocean islands, and southern Asia.

Needed: a cell phone camera is fine if you are able to get quite close to the weaver nests, else a good bridge camera or DSLR will be useful.

Information needed: GPS locality, weaver species, date the photos were taken, nests active or not

Requirements for photos

Photos needed: Close up of a weaver nest, also a zoomed out photo showing the colony or nest in its setting, and photo(s) of the surrounding area to show the habitat where the nest is situated.

Individual nests: If there is a colony with many nests, you can take photos of different nests that you can see clearly (not obscured by twigs or reeds). You can also take photos of the same nest from different angles, but label these photos as being the same nest.

Photo clarity: if the nests are not in focus, the photos will not be useful. Rather wait and take photos again (of the same or new colony) and submit.

Photo resolution: Photos do not need to be of high quality (more than 1000 pixels side or around 3 Mb is enough).

Submit photos

Send the information and photos to Erwan at weavers.nests.project@gmail.com

It is best to use a new email for each record to avoid confusion. The photos will probably be too large to email all together, so either send a few at a time, or use Dropbox, WeTransfer, or similar app to send the photos to Erwan.

PHOWN: A great way to help Erwan and PHOWN at the same time, is to upload your record to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) which is a Virtual Museum (VM), citizen science project at the University of Cape Town. PHOWN collects breeding distributions and colony sizes of weaver birds globally. To take part, register and upload records here (read the “Help and Documents” at the VM web). Once your photos have been accepted on the VM web (usually on the same day as uploading), you can view your own records and check the PHOWN record number. Then send the record number to Erwan, together with any additional photos (only 3 photos per record can be uploaded to the VM site).

If you have any questions, please email Erwan (weavers.nests.project@gmail.com) and/or Dieter (dieter@birds4africa.org)


Here is a colony of the Southern Masked Weaver, with 3 nests in reeds. The male was seen near the nests, confirming the identity. Below is a photo of the colony, and then close up photos of each nest. Finally habitat photos were taken around the colony (one habitat photo is enough, but more can be taken). These photos show that the colony is at the edge of the reedpatch and in a very urban area. The information was uploaded to PHOWN (view record here) with 3 of the colony photos. To submit the data to Erwan, I emailed him the PHOWN record number (29578) so that he can see the date, coordinates, and other information. Then I sent all 8 photos shown below (at high resolution) to Erwan via WeTransfer.

Southern Masked Weaver colony


Southern Masked Weaver, nest 1


Southern Masked Weaver, nest 2


Southern Masked Weaver, nest 3


Habitat around colony – face the colony and take a photo, then turn 90° and take a photo, and repeat two more times
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.