This bird is extraordinary. I was awed by their intelligence. Every year they came here to make nests. Last year the acacia trees in vacant plots in our area were uprooted due to heavy rains and construction activity. I thought this year they will not come here because there seems to be no trees for hanging the nests.
What is the Criteria for selection of a site?
Suitable tree which is not easily approachable by predators and humans.
Food and Water Availability
Yet some 10-15 days ago, I noticed these birds in bullrushes collecting the nesting material. I was very much surprised where they are making the nests. And see they selected the Palm trees in a society for three reasons: One they cut the nesting material from palm fronds and second that nearby on the sides of the road, people come with grain seeds for ants and sparrows. So food will be nearby.
All birds make nests to raise their chicks. The nests range from simple twigs heaped together to most elaborate. Weaver birds excel as craftsman in making intricate nests.
The area they choose for nesting is carefully chosen. There should be thorny tree like acacia or lofty trees like palms. Idea is to deter predators like snakes, shikra etc from destroying the nest for eggs. Then there should be plenty of food available near by. So they choose the areas near agricultural land. Then there should be nesting material available like bulrush grass in bogs.
While baya weavers make the nests on trees their cousins Black Breasted Weavers also known as Bengal Weaver or Black Throated Weaver (Ploceus benghalensis) make their nests inside thick bulrush grasses. Their nests are not easily seen on cursory look. It is so intricately hidden.
Only male birds do the nest making. They make hundreds of trips to bring the grass blades which they cleave from the grass stalks. Females are invited to inspect the partially completed nest, if a female okays the nest she would move with male for starting the family.
In our area there are plenty of weavers birds. We located one such nest in the making. From a distance without disturbing the bird made a video which I am sharing with my friends on wordpress.
Mention of a wasp is enough to make you fear. They deliver painful stings. One of the species of wasps is Sand Wasps or Bembix. They nest in the ground preferably in the sand. These live in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
Adult sand wasps feed on nectar but most hunt for flies to feed to their larvae in the nest. They are excellent hunters, capturing flies on the wing, paralysing them with venom in mid-air and carrying them back to the waiting larvae. Sand wasps can deliver painful stings only when they are disturbed.
I spotted these wasps many times in a forest area near me. One of them was furiously digging a nest in the sand. It was doing it very deftly. As the sand piled up at the mouth of the hole, it comes out to clear it so that further digging is continued.
House Sparrow sized, Baya Weavers are master craftsmen. Their nests are the works of great ingenuity. The summer months transiting into monsoon rains witness the intense activity of nest building by these tireless birds.
It is the male Baya Weavers which are more beautiful as compared to their female counterparts, who construct the nest. The sole purpose of the nest building is to find a suitable partner and make preparations for next generations.
When the nest is in the half way stage, the males invite the females. They make noises and flap their wings whenever female Weavers fly near the tree, these male Weavers flap their wings sitting on their half done nests to attract their attention hoping that one of them may be kind enough to inspect the nest and build a bonding.
Birds make nests not to live in but lay eggs and start the next generation. Nests are of wide sizes and shapes, ordinary but practical and ornate type. But the nest of Baya Weaver bird is a work of great craftsmanship. It is made exclusively by male bird in the height of summers in India.
Finished Nest has two doors but there is a catch. When the nest reaches the stage when the vertical door is to start, male bird invites the female who inspects the work. If she likes it and agrees to move in for making a pair for eggs and chicks and next generation. If she reject it, the male is dejected and dismantles the entire work. It then begins to weave another nest.
It is said that Baya Weaver makes more than 500 trips to bring the grass stalks for nest building. The nests are made on the trees like acacia and other thorny trees which makes the entry of predators difficult. They are generally on the trees which are near the water bodies.
It is the winter season here in North India. The place where I live is adjoining the hills of Himachal Pradesh. During severe winters, many birds from these hill areas come down to adjoining plains which are relatively warmer.
There is a forest near my residence. These days lots of Alexandrine Parakeets and Rose Ringed Parakeets are present in this forest. Their flocks fly from one tree to another searching for the cavities in the tree branches for making nests.
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.
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.
I think I wrote a post on this beautiful bird long back. Its name is Red Wattled Lapwing. It gets this name from the blobs of red colored mass near its beak. In fact, this bird is very common here and if you happen to live near fields, barren lands and water bodies, you are most likely to encounter them.
They are always on alert. Any preying bird or animal, is bravely and aggressively taken upon. They can be heard making alarming calls even during the night. They are said to be foraging even during moonlit nights.
They lay eggs on the ground. Nest is nothing but a collection of few pebbles, grass pieces. The selection of pebbles is done very intelligently so as to camouflage the eggs. While one partner sits on the eggs to hatch, the other stays nearby to alert about any danger.
People in north India believed that if it makes nest on the elevated places, there are chances of rain ahead. If the best is at lower level, the weather is going to be dry weather.
There are grown up Ficus Shrubs with thick canopy of branches and leaves at the top in the small park outside our house. In the morning usually I sit up in the balcony and watch birds and green fields away.
There are common birds to be seen dominated by the rock pigeons which are multiplying here at an abnormal speed and breeding in the niches of buildings. Residents scatter seeds for them so that there is no scarcity of the food to them. Then there are mynas which have arrived here after the end of winter season. Similarly there are a few crows and nightingales. A falcon also is to be seen sometimes.
But some days back in the early morning noticed the small beautiful pair of birds. They were sitting on the metallic net wires near the ficus shrub. Then they inspected all the ficus trees. Since these trees have thick foliage bigger predator birds cannot enter inside.
Then everyday they were darting into fields near by and bringing the straws to make nest inside the shrub. Usually they were seen in the morning. During this activity they take turns to bring the material for construction of the nest. The other of the pair will sit on the fence near the ficus. I peered into the foliage and found a nest which was surprising given the small size of the bird.
Then I photographed them and searched the internet for indetifying the birds. It turned out that these are the birds called “Scaly Breasted Munia”. Their scientific name is Lonchura punctulata. these are also known as nutmeg mannikin or spice finch.
it is a small bird with a very distinctive appearance. It has a bright cinnamon head and neck, with duller brown plumage on the back and wings. The underside of the scaly-breasted munia is mainly white, although each feather on the breast. it is merely 11 to 12 centimeters long.
They are described as social animals which means they live in small groups but here i found only two pairs. The diet of the scaly-breasted munia comprises mainly seeds, and this species spends much of its time foraging off the ground. It also takes seeds directly from plants such as rice during the harvest season, when the kernels are maturing.
The birds are native to south asia ranging from Indonesia in the east to Afghanistan in the west. These birds are also found as far north as Nepal.