Angry Birds Build the World’s Biggest Nests
Aggressive sociable weavers push lazy birds to build their spectacular African nests, which weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
You don’t build the world’s biggest bird nests by putting up with lazybones.
That, anyway, is the finding of a new study into how sociable weavers (Philetairus socius) make and maintain nests that can house up to 500 birds.
Aggressive supervisors identify and punish the slackers while constructing the giant, grass-woven structures in southern Africa. (Take National Geographic's bird quiz.)
Birds that shirk their duties on creating the nest’s main thatch structure, and focus instead on their individual chambers, are chased away from the nest, according to the study, published March 16 in the journal PLOS ONE.
But when the lazy birds return, they’re much more cooperative, the researchers found during National Geographic Society-supported fieldwork at the Brink Research Site in Namibia in 2014.
Study co-author Gavin Leighton believes the pushy birds in the weaver colony help to pull it together for the common good.
“The aggression inducing this nest construction, given it’s such a constant behavior that we see, could very well lead to these large nests,” says Leighton, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York.
Weighing up to a ton or more