South Africa is home to 13 species of weavers. To attract weavers to the garden there are a couple of things that need to happen - they need water, shelter and food. Weavers generally nest in colonies choosing to build their nests in large thorn trees, and what thornier tree than the Vachellia species (previously known as Acacias).
Weaver birds in the garden:
Weaver birds have a reputation for being incredible hardworking and sociable birds. Weavers are also very important creatures ecologically as their nests are homes for birds that are unable make their own nests.
The most commonly seen weaver species in Durban are the: Spotted-backed or Village Weaver and the Lesser Masked Weaver.
Naturescaping for weavers:
Like any true security conscious South African weavers are always trying to beef up security by building nests in Vachellias growing over water. Gardens with a large body of water or fishponds should plant Vachellia species close by to emulate nature. Life Landscapes, the landscaping division of Life Green Group focuses on this branch of landscaping referred to as naturescaping.
A veld garden is also vital for nest material as the weavers pluck the grass for their nests. Weavers also strip palm leaves for their nests so plant a couple of those in the garden too.
So here are six indigenous Vachellia species that will attract weavers to your bird garden:
- Broadpod robust thorn (Vachellia rhobusta)
If you are an acacia lover and have a small garden but what to do well for urban wildlife, then the broadpod robust thorn is for you. It is one of the neater acacia species with lovely bark and lovely custard yellow flowers.
Weavers have a conical beak meaning they eat seeds so hang a seed feeder off the lower branches of your Vachellia rhobusta.
- Camel thorn (Vachellia Erioloba)
The hardy camel thorn attracts nesting birds from a young age. It is a fantastic garden, bushveld and farming specimen as it is drought-resistant and provides much needed fodder for game and livestock. The camel thorn has interesting bulbous thorns and occurs in the Gauteng region and northern parts of the country. It is great for xeriscapes too.
- Fever tree (Vachellia xanthophloea)
Weavers, mosquitos and Fever trees all naturally occur near water. The fever got its name erroneously - it was believed to be cause malaria when it was actually the mosquitos that were found in close proximity to the tree and water sources. The fever tree is an ironic South African tree and has lovely lime coloured bark. They look wonderful planted together and give a silverbirch-affect if planted in groups. This is a great tree for the Durban area.
Weavers love fever trees as they grow near water and provide the necessary protection.
- Monkey-thorn tree (Vachellia galpinii)
The Monkey-thorn tree is the Life Green Group’s CEO favourite tree as well as the weavers. Weavers like acacia trees because not only do the nasty thorns offer protection the birds use the thorns as base to start building their nests. The Vachellia galpinii gets very big and makes for a stunning landscape specimen.
- Paperbark thorn (Vachellia Sieberianna var woodii)
The paperbark thorn is a fantastic tree for any bird garden it attracts weavers, crested barbets, hornbills and hoopoes. It’s a large beautiful tree with an impressive statue, although it is very messy below it.
- Sweet thorn (Vachellia karoo)
Weavers and bees love the sweet thorn and it makes for a great addition to a bird garden. This tree is an indicator of water in dry areas which is another reason the weavers love it. The sweet thorn occurs across South Africa and is great for any garden biome.
Written by: Life Green Group for Durban Green Corridor