Amazing Nests Built by African Birds

Amazing Nests Built by African Birds

Birds build some staggering structures, from nests the size of walnuts to makeshift rafts and even apartment complex. When you think of a bird’s nest, you probably picture a typical bowl-shaped structure made of twigs and leaves, right? Well, it turns out some bird nests are a bit more complicated than that. Let us explore the amazing structures built by birds in the African forests.

Southern Masked Weaver

The southern masked weaver nests in colonies, mainly from September to January. The nests, like those of other weavers, are woven from reed, palm or grass. A female will line a selected nest with soft grass and feathers. The nest is built in a tree, often over water, but sometimes in suburbia. This weaver also nests in reeds.

African Jacana

Doubling up as a mating platform, the Jacana’s nest is a fragile, floating pile of vegetation. The bird makes several, and chooses one for laying eggs. The nest is loosely anchored and glides precariously over water. Sometimes it sinks while the bird is incubating its eggs.

Golden-tailed Woodpecker

Famously, woodpeckers nest in cavities drilled into living pine trees. It takes years for a breeding pair to excavate one. Sap oozing from the tree keeps away predators such as rat snakes.

Southern yellow-billed hornbill

Hornbills nest in natural tree cavities, or abandoned woodpecker holes. Before laying eggs a female seals herself inside the nest behind a wall of mud and faeces. This keeps predators out. The male feeds her and the chicks through a narrow slit in the wall.

South African Cliff Swallow

Mud nesting species in particular are limited in areas of high humidity, which causes the mud nests to crumble. Many cave, bank and cliff dwelling species of swallow nest in large colonies. Mud nests are constructed by both males and females, and amongst the tunnel diggers the excavation duties are shared as well.

Sociable Weavers

As their name suggests, these birds nest and brood in groups. They build a gigantic nest-within-a-nest structure attached to trees and poles. A compound nest can house over 100 breeding pairs, each contributing to its construction, maintenance and repair. Living in groups means someone is always on the lookout for danger. They win the award for biggest bird nest on Earth.


On the other end of the scale, hummingbird nests are so small that it’s easy to mistake them for knots in the trees. In fact, the smallest nest in the world is the Bee Hummingbird’s nest, which is just over an inch wide. The hummingbird makes its cup-shaped nest by weaving spiderwebs with feathers and leaves to make it strong and stretchy, then covering the outside with lichen. The bird then lays two eggs, each the size of a coffee bean, inside.

Village Weaver

To woo a mate, the village weaver builds three to five nests each mating season — each takes up to 15 hours to create.


This African bird’s nest is a massive, roofed structure set up in the fork of a tree near water. It takes about 8 weeks and 10,000 twigs to build, and is lined with mud for insulation and water-proofing. This takes a lot of effort, from both the male and the female. What’s more, one nest evidently isn’t enough. Hamerkop pairs build up to 4 nests a year, working all year round.

Saddle-billed Storks

Their habitat is mainly in wetlands and along rivers and lakes as their diet consists mostly of fish, frogs, crabs and the occasional bird or small reptile.  They are territorial and are usually found singly or in pairs.  Mating is for life and they never breed in colonies. Together they build a stick nest at the top of a tree close to water.  The nest is deep enough to conceal the bird sitting on the two to three eggs that are laid.  Incubation takes about six to seven weeks and chicks are ready to fledge  two to three months later