You can look at the full documented source 

  http://twitter.com/javascripts/widgets/widget.js

and could add that facility of you want ("Hosting and modifications of the 
original source IS allowed."), but there is a simpler way that you can see 
by inspecting the documented code...

First render a div with a known id

  <div id='myTwitterWidget'><img src='loading.gif'/></div>

and then render the widget to that id

 TWTR.Widget({
    id: 'myTwitterWidget',
   ... other params here...
  }).render()....

and that way, the widget wipes my loader when it renders (ie if you specify 
an id, the widget will replace the existing contents of that element)

Cheers

--
Tim


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