The Contrariness of Mrs Weaver

 The Good Woman has written a quite lovely piece that describes her packing experience – her parcelling up of memories –; she is about to relocate from Scotland to Kenya.

With a recent – and not entirely happy (in a perfect world I’d have stayed where I was forever) – move of my own over, I had cause to mull over her words as I dug amongst the last of dozens and dozens of dusty packing boxes, unearthing my own memories from bubble wrap and brown paper.  And later, because I deserved it and because I couldn’t think where to put everthing I’d unwrapped, I rewarded myself with a walk on the dam, accompanied by kids and dogs.

There we came upon an acacia tree adorned with the nests of weaver birds


In weaver bird communities, Mr Weaver Bird is solely responsible for the nest building. He needs to build a nest to a sufficiently high standard that he attract a mate. And any potential Mrs Weaver Bird is going to be very fussy, her demands exacting. She wants a home in a thorny tree, so its safe from predators (my cats, for example), at the end of a long, thin branch so she gets plenty of advance warning in the event of snake attack. She’d quite like to be close to water, preferably directly above it as such proximity not only enhances her security (from cats, snakes et al) but it means she can preen whilst admiring her reflection in the water’s surface.  Mrs Weaver has no tolerance of shoddy workmanship (sticky out twigs, untidy entrances etc) and – get this, this is the best bit (a gem of information from my eldest daughter, Amelia, who says she wants to be the next Attenborough except she doesn’t have his voice she says – or other bits of him, I want to point out) Mrs Weaver Bird is especially hard to please when it comes to colour scheme; she will absolutely not – under any circumstance, even if the nest fits the bill in every other respect – consider a home that has begun to go brown. She will only marry and move into the home of Mr Weaver Bird if the nest is still green.

But why, I want to know?

Because says Amelia (aka next Attenborough if she had the voice and other bits) if the nest is brown, it means it was built some time ago and Mr Weaver Bird still hasn’t managed to fill it with a mate yet which means there’s probably something wrong with him. Like what? I ask, ‘like he’s weedy and produces ugly babies’.

Given my not very beautiful new home and fact I have had to abandon own exacting standards, I think my own Mr Weaver Bird must consider himself very fortunate that I have agreed to move in regardless.



5 Responses to “The Contrariness of Mrs Weaver”

  1. Roberta Says:

    I don’t know what it is about your writing, perhaps it’s the abundance of nature or perhaps your practical way of looking at things, but it always leaves me filled with wonder and amazement.

    You are so very well grounded and down to earth with an eye for the beautiful and the grace to be able to put it down into wonderful, powerful words.

  2. Iota Says:

    Given your description of Mr Weaver Bird’s technique for putting up pictures, I think he should indeed consider himself fortunate.

  3. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Roberta, thank you. Your very kind words struck a deep chord today. I don’t feel a bit well-rounded at the moment and so what you say is hugely encouraging; thank you.

    Iota. Quite. I couldn’t agree more. I think I shall tell him how lucky he is since I don’t think he has the nerve (he says time, I beg to differ) to read my blog! Perhaps he has the sense not to?

  4. lara Says:

    Good day, I’ve just stumbled upon your delightful site as I research a children’s book in which a weaver bird is quite important; however which one I am not sure. I am looking for info about the one who uses blue bits of trash in his nest to attract perspective Mrs Weavers. Ever seen this in Africa? Know which it is? I’d be grateful for the help. By the by, what brought you to Africa? You certainly are a cheerful lot about your lack of lawn, etc. Irrigation methods intriguing. Good show. I enjoyed your daughter’s input about the birds’ view as well. Since she knows about green nests, maybe she’s heard about blue ones too. Thanks!

  5. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    lara, thanks for kind words about my waffle. now font of all knowledge, aka teenage daughter, when I said reader wanted to know which bird used bit of blue trash in its nest and could she help, responded with ”that’s not a bird in Africa mum” (in tone Attenborough would use with urbanite who doesn’t know milk comes from cows), “that bird lives in Australia”. LittleMissKnowItAll, however, could not recall its name … sorry!

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