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African Village Weaver

Ploceus cucullatus
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Range: 
Sub-saharan Africa
Habitat: 
Savannahs, fields and gardens, open woodlands and human habitation. This species needs large trees for nesting.

Males build a woven nest of grass and leaf strips in the shape of a ball.  The entrance is at the bottom.  Females inspect the nest, and if they approve they will move in and lay 2 to 3 eggs.  Village weavers get their name from their woven nests, and the fact that between 8 and 100 males will have nests in the same tree.  After mating, the male will often leave to build another nest for another female.  Males may build 3 nests each season. The female village weaver incubates the eggs alone and rears the chicks. The eggs hatch after about 2 weeks and once about 3 weeks old, the nestlings are independent.

Weavers are very social, with colonial breeding and feeding.  Weavers communicate while searching for food to help the flock stay together and announce when food is found.

They often nest in the same tree as wasps to help deter predators.   Their nests have entrances in the bottom for the same reason.

One more challenge that African Village Weavers face is nest parasitism.  Cuckoos live in the same area and will lay an egg in the Weaver’s nest for it to incubate.  Cuckoo chicks develop quickly and can either push the Weaver’s own eggs out of the nest, or out-compete the Weaver’s own chicks for food.  As a defense, every female African Village Weaver lays a unique pattern of eggshell.  All of her eggs have the same pattern that is unique to her.  Any egg that does not match this pattern is pushed out of the nest.