A Desert Inn
Heading into the vast, barren Kalahari Desert of southern Africa soon, and need a place to crash? I’m sure the peculiar Sociable Weaver bird (Philetairus socius) will be happy to accomodate you. They live in organised colonies and are expert architects, building the largest tree nests in the world out of sticks, grass and cotton. These often honeycomb around telephone poles, for lack of suitable trees. The birds are “sociable” because they’re not in the least territorial, and kindly let other nest in their giant homes too, regardless of species. The nests are popular because the insulate from both the heat and the cold, and they accommodate up to 400 birds at any given time—the South African pygmy falcon, the pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit, and rosy-faced lovebird all find shelter there, nesting right alongside the Sociable Weavers. Vultures, owls, and eagles also roost on the roof of the nest. It’s believes that the Weavers are so willing to share their homes because the other birds can show them new sources of food, and can help keep an eye out for danger—so, amazingly, the teeming nests are like regular inns. Over the years, they just keeping growing and growing, some reaching 6 metres wide and 3 metres tall, and they give wonderfully quirky personalities to inanimate poles.
(Image Credit: Dillon Marsh)