nest to nest

The most well-known nest-builders are probably birds. Their nests vary in complexity, from simple accumulation of materials on the ground to elaborate designs. In the weaverbird family alone there is great diversity between species—those that build in exposed conditions include a thatched roof and insulated lining, whilst, others build nests which have thick walls and a sloping roof to keep out the rain.

 On Rubondo there are several species of weaver birds who create wonderfully intricate nests, such as the one below.

These structures are often used by ethologists to distinguish between several closely related species. Animals identified through differences in their nest architecture are termed ethospecies.  Birds’ nests can be readily identifiable to species level, for example, the hanging nest of the red-headwed weaver (Anaplectes rubriceps) is unique in construction.

Whether nests are found, conquered, or constructed; they typically serve as refuge and protection from unfavourable climate and predators, as a breeding site, or a resting place.

“So it is with the nests which vary partly in dependence on the situations chosen, and on the nature and temperature of the country inhabited, but often from causes wholly unknown to us.” —Darwin, 1859, On the Origin of Species


About Nadejda Josephine

I am currently studying for a doctorate in Anthropology at University College London. My fieldwork takes place on Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The research looks at the nesting patterns and nest architecture in the Rubondo chimpanzees. I began the work in April 2012 and will remain on the island until at least October 2013. I write this blog so as not to forget this wonderful island and the random events which occur throughout my fieldwork.

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