I first noticed the Cape Weaver when I stopped on the bridge that crosses the channel that connects two of the lakes in Green Point Park, in the ocean suburb of Cape Town. The little yellow-breasted bird was busily constructing a nest, tying together some stout reeds, about a meter above the water’s edge, using strips of grass. By the next day, the nest appeared to be almost complete and he had started on a second. As the days passed he continued to build more and more nests. In the end there were at least ten that I could see. But where were the females?
And then one day two females appeared while I was watching. The little male predictably became hyper-excited: flapping, wiggling, screeching. But to no avail. The females checked out his attempts at building nests, turned their backs on him and flew off. My little male disappeared into each nest that they had rejected, to see what it was that they did not like. He was like a randy real-estate agent who had tried to seduce his prospective female tenants and pathetically failed.
A passing local lady explained to me that the little male was fortunate: normally females which do not like a nest can rip it apart, before heading off to find a better suitor. She told me that the entrance to the nest is on the underside and if the female accepts the male, he will construct a tunnel, while she lines the nest, and then they mate.
And then came a storm, with strong winds, and the nests were rather greatly shaken, some of the reeds being bent down almost to water level. Perhaps the females knew what they were doing in refusing my little male.
Some time later, I noticed weaver nests at the other end of the pond. And there was a little yellow breasted weaver, and a female disappearing into and emerging out of a nest. Was it my little male bird? I like to think that it was.
But he can’t control his urge to build more nests and attract more females.
In the meantime, I look forward to watching the next weaver generation emerge…