By Crystal Chung @CrystalKChung
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Shot in the comfort of his own back garden in South Africa, journalist Chris Jek captured the following series of photos showing one weaver bird creating a nest from start to finish.
Male weaver birds construct their intricate nests during mating season, using them to attract prospective mates.
Sometimes, after the male has completed the basic structure of the nest and a female has approved it, the female will help him to complete the nest.
Chris said: “On the South African Highveld, weaver birds start nesting in August and stop building nests in February.
“The male weaver bird starts making a knot with a long blade of grass. Then he builds a circular structure, weaving blades using his beak and feet. Next step is to weave grass around the initial ring to built a ball-shaped nest."
Weaver birds use a variety of plant materials to build their nests; including strips of grass, leaves, twigs and roots.
A weaver bird has a strong, conical beak, which it uses to cut blades of grass that it will use in nest-building. The bird can tie real knots in nest material with its beak and its feet. By tying knots, the bird makes the nest more secure.
The French-born photographer said: “The nest is 100% waterproof. Even through very violent storms, I have never seen a nest fall down or been damaged by wind or water.
“The bird takes about two days to complete the nest. Last step is to come back with soft grass to upholster the nest and make it comfortable for the offsprings to come."
Weaver birds range from about four to 10 inches long with the male birds often being a yellow and black in colour and the females being a pale brown-yellow.
Chris said: “Males usually build between five to 10 nests, and wait for a female to visit them and pick it up or not.
“However, if a nest is not occupied by a female after a few days, the male will destroy the nest and build another one, as females only pick up freshly build nests. One single male may built more than 50 nests in one breeding season.”
The nest of a weaver bird often has a narrow tube-like entrance that opens upside down, so it is hard for a predator to get inside.
Some species of weaver bird live in colonies and build hundreds of nests close together. Sometimes several nests will be built on one tree branch.
Chris said: “Weaver birds nests are one of the most sophisticated nests in birds. I found it amazing and all the same a mystery how evolution could come out with such fantastic skills in such small birds.”