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Sociable Weaver Fact File

Philetarius socius

Weight

24-32g

(0.8-1.13oz)

Length

14cm

(5.5in)

Lifespan

Wild 4 years

Captive 15 years

Diet

Omnivore

Insects, Grasses

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

Sociable weavers are a species of sparrow sized bird found in southern Africa. They have a small bill used to grab insects, grasses and seeds.

These birds are notable due to the large nests which they weave from dry grasses around sticks on trees or man made structures such as telephone poles.

In these nests hundreds of pairs may nest alongside one another laying a number of clutches each year.

Currently these birds are considered to have a stable population with no major threats to the survival outside of their natural predators such as snakes and predatory birds.

Learn more about these amazing avians by reading on below.

Appearance

Sociable weavers are colored brown with a creamy breast and belly. They have a black patch on the throat. On either flank are white-edged black feathers.

Their bill is strong and light grey in color. This bill is short and cone-shaped. It is well adapted to assist them with cracking open seeds.

The legs are colored dark grey as are the feet. The eye is colored dark brown.

These birds reach a length of up to 14cm (5.5in) long with an average weight of between 24 and 32g (0.8-1.13oz). Their have a wing length of 70-79mm (2.8-3.1in) across. Males and females are similar in size and appearance.

Diet


The sociable weaver is an omnivore. Their diet includes grasses, seeds and insects. As they obtain water from their food they prefer green grass seeds. The will uncommonly feed on fruit and flowers.

These birds will rarely drink water and instead gain most of their moisture from their diet.

Sociable Weavers

Range

Africa is the native home of the sociable weaver. Here they can be found in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Habitat

These birds can be found in shrubland and grassland. They are primarily found in acacia savannas. Their range requires the presence of stout trees and dry grasses which can be used to create a large nest.

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Reproduction

Pairs which have mated may remain together for a number of years.

Sociable weavers nest together in the nest structures which they form from straw (see behavior section for more details on nest construction). They will nest alongside 100s of other pairs in their own chamber. The nesting chamber is lined with soft plant material, fur or fluff.

In to their nest the female will deposit between 3 and 4 eggs colored white with grey spots. These are incubated for between 13 and 14 days.

These hatchlings fledge after 21 to 24 days. Both parents work together to feed the chicks. Fledged siblings may also help provide food.

At hatching the chicks eyes are closed. They will open by 7-10 days old. Feathers begin to emerge at 14 days old.

They reach sexual maturity between 1 and 2 years old.

If a breeding attempt is unsuccessful they will quickly produce another clutch of eggs. Within a breeding season they can produce a number of clutches of eggs.

Behavior

These birds create large community nests where they can breed. Dozens of pairs may share the same nest with all the individuals working together to maintain the thatchlike roof over the nest. Group members work together to weave straw together to form the nest.

This nest site is also where they will roost at night.

Sociable weavers build these nests in trees or on man-made structures such as telephones poles, windmills or any other structure.

Each nest may have up to 100 individual chambers with each housing a single pair.

Once these birds create a nest they will spend their entire life there.

The call of the sociable weaver sounds like 'chi-chi-chi-chi.' These birds are considered highly vocal. They have a harsh, single note call to show alarm.

Sociable weavers are active during the day. They emerge at sunrise and go out to feed. When the weather is hot they will rest within the nest or under shade.

As a social species they will groom one another during the day to reinforce bonds.

Sociable Weavers

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the sociable weaver include snakes such as the cape cobra and boomslang which will enter the nest to take eggs or hatchlings. Adults can be taken in flight by birds of prey.

When on the ground they may face a threat from mongooses, ratels, caracals and the cape wild cat.

Their nest can be taken over by other birds such as pygmy falcons and lovebirds along with reptiles and insects. Pygmy falcons rely on the sociable weaver for their nesting sites and may share with these birds.

To protect the entrance of their nest it will have sharp spikes of straw across it.

While no major study has determined the exact population size they are considered to be common with a stable population.

Quick facts

Their Latin name socius comes from the word for 'sociable.'

Sociable weavers build the largest tree nests in the world. Some nests grow so large they can make the nest fall out of a tree.

Sociable Weavers

Photo Credits

Top

H.-U. Küenle, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two

Yathin S Krishnappa, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

Public Domain

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Christiansen, P., 2019. Birds. London: Amber Books Ltd.

BirdLife International. 2016. Philetairus socius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22718731A94593843. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22718731A94593843.en. Downloaded on 25 June 2021.

Grida.no. 2021. Social Weaver (Philetairus socius), Etoscha National Park, Namibia | GRID-Arendal. [online] Available at: <https://www.grida.no/resources/2375> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2021. Social weaver | bird. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/animal/social-weaver> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Wilkinsonsworld.com. 2021. Philetairus socius | Wilkinson's World. [online] Available at: <https://www.wilkinsonsworld.com/tag/philetairus-socius/> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Sociable Weaver (Philetairus socius) Fact Sheet. c2015. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed 25 June 2021]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/ sociableweaver.

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2021. Sociable Weaver | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/sociable-weaver> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2021. Sociable Weaver | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/sociable-weaver> [Accessed 25 June 2021].

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