Basket Cases

A great example of birds as nature’s weavers and architects.

La Paz Group

There are birds around the world that use strands of different materials to craft marvelous woven nests that hang from tree branches — if you’re lucky enough to see them!

Of course, in some circumstances it is not hard to find these pendent, or hanging, nests, as with many species of caciques and oropendolas in Central and South America (birds related to the North American blackbirds, orioles, and cowbirds). That’s right, the photo above isn’t of some weird fruit tree, but a tree-wide colony of oropendolas at Las Isletas, in Nicaragua!

Caciques, close relatives of Oropendolas, often nest beside wasp nests; orioles, only slightly more distant relatives, frequently nest near Eastern Kingbirds and Great Kiskadees. Wasps and these large flycatchers all help defend against nest predators. Yellow-rumped Caciques like the one pictured on the right start their nest building with a loop in a tangled mass of fibers that surrounds…

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