Bird perching under woven nest

How a weaverbird outsmarts a cuckcoo

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the Museum is sharing the stories of 27 inspirational women, alongside the animals they work with the most.

Dr Jenny York

Department of Zoology

Dr Jenny York

“Right now, I am studying the conspicuous nests built by male African weaverbirds. These work marvellously to woo females, who carefully inspect the nests before choosing their favourite and mating with the male.

However, being prominent comes with a catch: their nests are not hidden from enemy eyes, including the brood parasites, Diederik cuckoos, which deposit an unwelcome egg in the nest, leaving the weaverbirds to rear the cuckoo chick as if it were their own. Using cutting-edge approaches to characterise nest architecture, I hope to unravel how a complex design of knots helps the weaverbirds to master their environment.

You can get involved with Jenny’s research, collecting data on bird nesting behaviour on

An equal world is an enabled world.
#IWD2020  #EachforEqual

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