In the trees across Eastern Africa you might see astonishing, symmetrical, straw nests embedded like Christmas ornaments in the branches. Meet the small wonders that do the building.
The White-browed sparrow weaver’s nest is a woven ball of grasses wedged into branches on the leeward side of a thorny tree. These little, 6.5 inch tall birds breed as early as August, depending on when the rainy season begins. Sparrow weavers live in flocks year-round and build several nests in one tree. Although each pair in a group builds a nest, only one pair in that group breeds. The dominant female lays one to three eggs that only she incubates.
When a predator nears the territory of white-browed sparrow weavers, all the birds chirp in chorus in an audible example of their cooperative habits. They also have a home security system built into the nests. The roosting nests of white-browed sparrow weavers have two openings. One serves as an emergency exit if a predator threatens; the other leads to a breeding chamber where eggs are incubated and chicks are fed.