Weaverbird, a family of birds, most members of which weave nests of grasses or other substances. There are about 145 species, native chiefly to Africa, Australia, and southern Asia. A few are native to Europe, and two—the house (or English) sparrow and the Eurasian tree sparrow—have been introduced into North America.
The various species of weaverbirds are from 3 to 10 inches (7.5 to 25 cm) long. The females are rather drab, but the males of many species are extremely colorful. Weaverbirds resemble finches, particularly with their short, strong, conical bills. They feed on seeds, and some are pests in rice and other grain fields. They are social birds, usually nesting and feeding in colonies.Weaverbirds weave nests of grasses or other materials.
The sociable, or social, weaver is found from central to southern Africa. Up to 300 pairs of birds build a communal nest of straw and twigs with separate nesting compartments. The nest is up to 10 feet (3 m) high and 15 feet (4.5 m) in diameter. The baya weaver of India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia builds a flask-shaped nest of grass fibers, which is entered through a hollow tube on the underside. Mated pairs build nests in the same tree but the nests are not connected. The African masked weaver is found in Ethiopia. Mated pairs build single nests of grass, which are suspended from tree branches.
Weaverbirds belong to the family Ploceidae. The sociable weaver is Philetairus socius; the baya weaver, Ploceus philippinus; the African masked weaver, P. velatus.