Baya Weavers

Baya Weavers are small birds of house sparrow size. The scientific name is Ploceus philippinus. What separates them from other birds is the beautiful nests they weave from the grass stalks, mud blobs.

The name weaver itself justifies the mastery is weaving very elaborate and elegant nests hanging from the branches of very high palm trees, thorny acacia trees. Usually these trees are near the water pools, scrub grasses where they are safe from predators.

It is male domain entirely to make the nest. When it is in the almost halfway stage, they invite the females by flapping their wings and if the female approves the nest, it means that she will reside with the particular male, mate and raise the new chicks. If she doesn’t approve, the structure will be abandoned and weaver will feel dejected and sometimes tore away the nest. It starts making newer one.

These birds come to our area in North India, at the peak of summers and by the onset of monsoon rains, have their nests completed. They visit the fields for foraging the seeds both raw and fallen after ripening.

After monsoons, and winter coming, they migrate to slightly warmer areas like western India where food is available and weather is not harsh.

The birds are gregarious and live in flocks. They can be located from the noises they make.

 

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Black Breasted Weaver

Weaver Birds visit our area when summers are at peak. They stay here, make beautiful nests using the grass stalks and mate and raise the chicks for new generation. Most common are Baya Weavers which make nests on the acacia, palm trees which are difficult for predators to approach.

Birds choose the places to nest in the area where food and water is available and safe from disturbances.

But there is another variety called Black Breasted Weaver. It is master strategist in the choice of the area fulfilling all three criteria. They make different kind of nests and use the long grasses to hang the nests. I accidentally discovered the nest while stopping on the scooter near a roundabout near Ghaggar river bridge in Panchkula Haryana of India.

On the side of road are trenches and crests and a water pool, I saw the nest last year. This year also I saw these nest almost in the same spot. Area is very difficult to approach. I somehow approached at not so favourable distant but still very far for better pictures of this small beautiful bird. It makes nest if the tall reed grass and so much camouflaged that you cannot see it clearly. Only once or twice it sat on the top of dry grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peacock: The National Bird of India 

Not for nothing is peacock called the king of birds. It is one of the most beautiful birds. India has chosen it as its National bird.

It is big bird. Females don’t have the beautiful train of tailed feathers. They look drab in comparison. Every part of the body of the peacock is full of beauty except its feet.

There are many myths and fables connected to this bird in India. It is said that Krishna adorns a small peacock feather in his hair because more is most pious and devoid of any sex. It produces ear drops while dancing and the drop is lapped up by the female and she lays eggs.

Of course these are all stories. It is illogical to think that lord Krishna who had innumerable women as his consorts will consider such a choice.

In India peacocks are in plenty. In earlier times, they were commonly found in the villages roaming in the courtyards and sitting perched on the roofs and tree branches. They are commonly found in the plains areas jutting the hills.

There is a forest near my home where they are in plenty. During summer when they dance , it is sign of impending rains.

Here are some photos..

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Little or Small Pratincoles: Beauty in small packets 

There is a river near Panchkula city of Haryana. It is called Ghaggar. Once a mighty river, now it has become a mere shadow of its past. A thin stream of water flows through the large bed made of sand, pebbles and small amounts of clay. Bushes and different grasses like bulrushes grow in its bed.

Here in the beds near running water one can spot these little cute birds only if you look very carefully on the ground because there colour camouflage them in the sand. They keep standing at a given spot for long time. They become quite fearless and allow you to approach quite nearer.

It is called Small pratincole, little pratincole, or small Indian pratincole (Glareola lactea), is a small wader in the pratincole family, Glareolidae. The birds arrived here about three months ago. They have laid the eggs and raised the new generation They lay eggs in the gravel and sand.

Here are some pictures I have taken

Standing still
Chick with mom
Feeding

Squatting

Oriental Honey Buzzard

It is also called crested honey buzzard with scientific name as Pernis ptilorhynchus. It  is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, eagles, and harriers.

It is quite big raptor with a long tail. It’s head is very small like that of pigeon. It is a specialist bird feeding on the larvae of bees. It also consumes crumbs of the honeycomb. Additionally it take cicadas.

It’s flight is very stealthy. In a forest it is possible to spot it only when it is perched on top of very lofty trees.

Again I spotted it quite a number of times in the forest near my home. Here are some pictures.

 

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Front view
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Side and top

Halcyon days and Mythical Bird identified with kingfisher

The term halcyon days usually refers to the past times in one’s life when there a calm, happiness or successful period.
The term derives from the Latin word Alcyone who in mythology was daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. Her husband died during his shipwreck. The grief stricken Alcyone threw herself into the sea. After that both were transformed into halcyon birds identified as Kingfishers. For example the biological name of the white throated kingfisher is Halcyon smyrnensis.

When the birds made their floating nest on the sea, Aeolus restrained his winds and their was a period of calm of 14 days at the winter solstice, so that the eggs hatch into chicks and become birds.

The word halcyon comes from “Hals” meaning “sea or salty” and “kyon” meaning “to conceive” meaning to conceive in sea.

White throated kingfisher is a very beautiful bird. It is quite common in our area. Although going by its name, it is mainly a fish eater but it has modified its eating habits. It can catch insects, small rodents and lizards. That is why it can be found sitting on trees in the fields away from the water bodies.

Here are some pictures taken by me.

Brown capped pygmy woodpecker 

One day I was going for early morning walk in the woods. It was all quite and only sounds you heard were that of birds. Most of the trees are old and dry in the jungle. As I was walking, I heard the pecking of the dry wood. On zeroing on the source of the pecking, I saw a very small object almost resembling the color of the wood, creeping along the branch of a tree. It was pecking the bark with its beak. Meet the Brown Capped Pygmy Woodpecker.

As the name suggests it is pygmy. It just is 13 cm in size and weighs 13–17 grams. Today I saw a dry tree where a Chestnut shouldered Petronia was sitting and making sounds. As I neared for taking its photographs, I noticed the woodpecker also there. There was a standoff between them. On close observation, I noticed two holes in the tree and understood that whole tiff between them was to occupy the holes. It seemed though that woodpecker family occupied it earlier.

I could take some pictures.

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