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Birds adopting weaver nests for breeding in Africa

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Weavers build domed, long-lasting nests that may also be adopted by other species for breeding, probably reducing the energetic costs of nest building to varying degrees. In an extensive literature search, 57 species were found to have at least one record of adopting a weaver nest. There is one known obligate nest user, the Pygmy Falcon Polihierax semitorquatus. Four species were classed as near obligate nest adopters. Four species were listed as common, 10 as occasional, and 38 species as rare nest adopters. Other than the falcon and lovebirds Agapornis species, these nest adopters are passerines. Of the 57 species of nest adopters, 35 species had confirmed eggs and/or chicks found in the weaver nests. Most nest adopter species were in the Estrildidae family (20 species), with three estrildids classed as near obligates. This was followed by the Muscicapidae family, species that build cup nests. By building their cup nests inside weaver nests, there is likely protection from adverse weather and predators. Overall, there appeared to be a large diversity of nest adopter species for the traditional savanna living weavers (Ploceus, Bubalornis, Anaplectes, Plocepasser and Philetairus).
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Keywords: Africa; Ploceidae; breeding; nest adoption; weavers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Animal Demography Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: April 3, 2018

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