Southern Masked-weaver – Ploceus velatus
These little weavers are very common in Namibia and one of the first birds that I learned to identify by their English name. Gardeners who are not birders, hate these little buggers. Gardeners who feed birds, can find them annoying. Point is, you really have to like all birds to like them.
The Southern Masked-weaver has control issues. If they arrive at a feeding station, no other bird will be allowed. They take total control. They also have the nasty habit of totally destroying young palm trees for the continuous building of nests – the reason gardeners tend not to like them. For those few birders who enjoy these birds (I am one of them), they can provide endless entertainment.
The male weaver builds the nest and to watch these guys start-up from scratch is quite amazing. I don’t think I’ll be able to tie those knots with both my hands and they have nothing but two claws (that they use for balancing in mid-air) and a beak. Truly amazing. Then the female weaver has to do inspection to see if the nest is worthy of her presence. If not (which seems to me to be most of the time), the male has to start all over again. This can go on for weeks and the reason any young palm tree struggles to withstand the onslaught.
According to the my faithful Roberts Bird Guide, 2007, the Southern Masked-weaver prefers open savanna, especially Acacia trees. This might be true in the wild, but they have no problems with finding themselves a palm or any other suitable tree in the suburbs to build their nests. These weavers enjoy insects, seeds, plant material and even nectar. Their call is described as a ‘series of buzzy swizzling and churring phrases, also sharp zik notes’. I’ll describe it as a chaotic, friendly chatter among birds. One that one gets quite fond of!