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white browed sparrow weaver

White-browed Sparrow Weaver from Mpala Field Guide

Nature’s Beautiful Builders

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.

Learn more at the Mpala Field Guide and tune into the African Wildlife Live Cams every day at explore.org. 

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