I will start this with a disclaimer - home builder and home maker are not the same, where in the home builder constructs the home - brick by brick or in case of our story - thread by thread - the home maker makes this place surrounded by these bricks or streaks of vegetation a home. Today I will talk about one such home maker…
Me and my fascination of Baya Weavers is not new. I remember being a kid looking up at these beautiful nest in trees - sometimes carrying one home to make it a piece of my decoration - the one that was fallen down was story of many boys and girls who have lived our times in 80s. Then there were period of times that I used to wonder why the nests were abandoned most of the times I saw them. Passing through that thought were times when I blamed myself that I bought that nest home, or touched it or God only knows what all crossed my mind where I blamed the empty nests because of my mis-conduct. Alas - it was only over the observation of these beautiful birds over so many years that I understood the entire process of a few drooping branches that become inhabited by these beautiful birds and then they construct their homes and raise the next generation and move on with life - moving to the next generation.
|The first weave - the very foundation of the house is fairly difficult and time consuming it seemed|
When I say beautiful - I mean every letter of the word flows from the bottom of my heart. Without rubbing in to my lady readers - the word beauty is more apt to males in the bird world than to a lady bird, hence to start where I left - the BEAUTIFUL males carry Yellow crowns and yellow breasts, with dark black masks over their faces.
|This thread would be stripped roughly 500 times by the time the house is ready|
|Oh - stop photographing me - get over with it...|
|Even with the house just starting to show - the male advertises the property|
|Get back to work boy - you are running behind schedule...|
The breeding starts with the arrival of monsoons. The males who attain the breeding conditions by showing off the beautiful yellow at approximate one and half year of age starts looking for places to build the nest. Though the nests have sometimes been found at isolated places - the birds as a rule build nests as a colony with 15 to 20 in a group. There are some very strict rules governing the colony - the nests are generally on the eastern side of tree - perhaps saving them from the punishing winds of SouthWest monsoons. If the colony is established on a tree or trees of lower height - then they generally are built where droop over water and not so easy to approach and of course the low colonies are preferred on thorny trees. The colony also has to be near a source of building material and wet mud. If the colony is established over tall trees then the thorny tree clause is struck off with the tall palm trees preferred.
After the colony location is shortlisted and approved by the house of majority - the males are a flurry of activity. They choose the branch over where the new house is to be built and off they go to get that first thin strip of a reed to make the knot. The first knot takes time and I saw many a males struggling, taking multiple attempts. After this the male makes multiple trips to get one string at a time and weave it to start making the nest. With the nest just about 1/4th done - the male starts advertising the property - after all if he sells the house right - he gets the home maker. The females behave - not unlike our species - minus the make up of course. They will stay at a distance and in a group observing and will come near the colony from time to time in a group. Whenever a female or a group of them approach the colony, it is a flurry of activity - the males shouting at the top of the voice to attract a mate - making full show of the plumage hanging from their (own) nests. Many a times the nest are not approved - and the female will come and tear it from the base - letting it to fall to ground. And this is not necessary for the nest that are under construction - this may be the treatment given to nest that almost complete or even fully complete. There is no choice and the male starts all over again. This game continues till the nest is complete and a lady bird approves of it.
|Is it time already ?? - apprehensions of every male...|
The male does the nest that are pendulous - with a retort shape and long vertical tube that leads to the nesting chamber. The nests have are either weighed down or lined with dung or mud. It is believed to give it more stability by adding weight at the right places. Once the nest is chosen by the female the inners are done almost exclusively by the female - lining it perhaps with mud, and soft material and converting this nest to a home.
Recently - BHNS acknowledging that the weavers range has dwindled over the years in India and initiated a count across the country to count and report the weaver birds so that a study could be done to mitigate the factors pushing these beautiful birds to the edge. I am writing this article to acknowledge these tiny birds who because of human greed and intervention are being pushed to a stage where they are becoming more and more rare to see and admire. It would be unfortunate for the next generation not to know the magic of building homes in nature. Each thread - stripped and converted to this nest is 20 to 60 cm long. The male takes almost 18 days to build the nest making upto 500 trips to complete one…
If you cannot appreciate it - you have no heart whatsoever…