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African Village Weaver

Ploceus cucullatus
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Sub-saharan Africa
Savannahs, fields and gardens, open woodlands and human habitation. This species needs large trees for nesting.
Males construct a woven nest using grass and leaf strips, shaped like a ball with the entrance at the bottom. Females inspect the nest, and if they approve, they move in and lay 2 to 3 eggs. Village weavers derive their name from their skill in weaving nests, and it is common for 8 to 100 males to have nests in the same tree. After mating, the male often leaves to build another nest for a different female. Males can build up to 3 nests in a single breeding season. The female village weaver incubates the eggs alone and raises the chicks. The eggs hatch after about 2 weeks, and once they are approximately 3 weeks old, the nestlings become independent.
Weavers are highly social, engaging in colonial breeding and feeding. They communicate with each other while foraging to maintain flock cohesion and to signal the discovery of food.
They often choose to nest in the same trees as wasps, as a means of deterring predators. The bottom entrance of their nests serves the same purpose.
African Village Weavers also face the challenge of nest parasitism. Cuckoos inhabit the same area and lay their eggs in the weavers' nests for them to incubate. Cuckoo chicks develop rapidly and can either evict the weaver's own eggs from the nest or outcompete the weaver's chicks for food. As a defense mechanism, each female African Village Weaver lays eggs with a unique pattern on the eggshell. All of her eggs bear the same distinctive pattern that is unique to her. Any egg that does not match this pattern is discarded from the nest.