WEAVER-BIRD. The popular name for a group of birds, forming the family Ploceidm, very similar to the finches. The name has reference to the remarkable structure of the nests of these birds, which are woven in a very wonderful man ner of various vegetable substances. About 250 species of Ploceidw are known, of which 200 are found in Africa, awl the remainder in tropical Asia, the Philippines and other East Indian islands, and in Australia. They are small birds, with a strong conical bill, sometimes coral red. The claws are large and very long. The wings are pointed, the first quill remarkably short. The plumage is frequently handsomely colored, many' of the South African species being black and red, orange, or yellow, and sonic of them are nuiell like the American orioles. There is great diversity in the form and appearance of the nests constructed by different species. One of the best known species is the yellow weaver (Ploceus Philippines), the baya (q.v.) of India. Many of the other weaver-birds construct nests pretty much on the same plan with this—pouches elon gated into tubes, entered from below; those of sonic are kidney-shaped, and the entrance is in the side. They are very likely to suspend their nests in the same way from the extremities of branches, and often prefer branches which hang over water, probably as affording further security against monkeys, squirrels, snakes, and other enemies. Social habits are prevalent among
them, and many nests of the same species are often found close together. Some of them at tach the nest of one year to that of the year, preceding, as certain Madagascan species, which sometimes thus makes five nests in succession, one hanging to another. Some of the African species build their nests in company, the whole forming one structure. Thus, the social weaver birds (Philetterus socius) of South Africa con. struct in communities an umbrella-shaped roof in a tree, beneath which as many as 300 bird homes are sometimes sheltered. An acacia with straight, smooth stem, such as predaceous ani mals cannot easily climb, is often selected by the bird-community. The birds begin by con structing the roof, which is made of coarse grass, each pair afterwards building their own nest, w hich is formed in an excavation on the under side of the 'roof.' As new nests are built every year, the weight of the structure often becomes so great as to break down its support. The wax bills, Java sparrows, nutmeg-birds, African ox peckers. and other species elsewhere described belong to this large family, and make remarkable nests, often in communities. The widow-birds (q.v.) are closely related to them. See Plate of NESTS OF WEAVER-BIRDS.