The start of the short rainy season triggers a second breeding season for many of Rwanda’s resident birds. Food sources become abundant, which is exactly what is needed to raise healthy young. This is the case for the many different species of weavers. The weaver family is not only comprised of the well-known yellow and black varieties - which are called Isandi in Kinyarwanda - but also red ones, brown ones, all black ones, and all yellow ones too. A few species are coloured with some combination of, if not all, the colours mentioned above! In Rwanda we have approximately 19 different species of weavers, with another 7 closely related species also occurring. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s birds: Tweets and other vocalisations The Village Weaver is a common sight across Rwanda because it is a bird that builds its nests in trees near to human habitations. It breeds in large colonies, some colonies have more than 100 nests. On the other end of the spectrum is the Parasitic Weaver. Whilst this little bird shares its name with the weavers, it is actually not a weaver and is in fact closely related to the indigobird family - when is a weaver not a weaver... Like a cuckoo, the Parasitic Weaver lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, who will raise the young as their own. Host parents include the Tawny-flanked Prinia and Winding Cisiticola, both are common residents of marshes and wetlands across Rwanda. Whilst an uncommon sight here in Rwanda, I have been lucky enough to see a Parasitic Weaver once at Nyandungu Eco-Park on the outskirts of Kigali. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s birds: Finding the energy to fly Two species of weaver found in Rwanda are of limited distribution. The first is the Strange Weaver, which is an Albertine rift endemic found in Nyungwe National Park, Gishwati-Mukura National Park and Volcanoes National Park. The second is the Northern Brown-throated Weaver, a Lake Victoria endemic which can be found in the north, east and south of the country, including Akagera National Park and Bugesera District. I have even managed to photograph them near Nzove, on the northern outskirts of Kigali by the Nyabarongo river. When it comes to nest construction, weavers are well known across the world for their architectural and engineering skills. All weavers construct enclosed ball shaped nests. However, the design of the nest, the environment in which they are constructed (hanging from a tree or in grass or reeds), the shape of the nest, the location and length of the entrance, even the width of the material used to weave the nest, varies across the different species. Both Village Weavers and Black-headed Weavers build their nests in colonies – large groups of nests in one location. Black-headed Weavers prefer to construct their nests next to, or hanging over water for protection against predators. Whereas Village Weavers are quite happy build their colonies next to, or near human structures, and usually in a tree. The males of both species will weave multiple nests during a breeding season to attract a mate. Each nest takes about 12-15 hours to construct. When a female arrives, the males hang and display under their nests by noisily fluttering their wings and making small display flights. Each male can have up to five mates at once, and a single male Village Weaver can have up to 20 mates in one breeding season. The monochrome Vieillot’s Black Weavers can sometimes be found nesting within a larger colony of Village Weavers. In stark contrast, Spectacled Weavers form a pair bond that can last for years. The male will sing to his mate throughout the year to reinforce their bond and they will return to the same nesting site every year. The male - watched by the female - takes between 1-3 weeks to build up to four nests, the female will then add the interior lining to her chosen nest. The male will help to incubate the eggs and rear the chicks. The similarities and subtle differences in lifestyle and behaviour of the various members of the weaver family are exactly what makes birds so fascinating to me. Species that superficially look and behave similarly actually each have unique characteristics. If you get the chance, now is a great time to find and watch as these captivating birds construct their nests and interact with each other in Kigali or just about anywhere across Rwanda.