Pictures and write-up on the Baya Weaver birds

Weaver Birds 

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From the family of Ploceidae

The Weaver Birds have all the same appearances of the House Sparrow. When not breeding both male and female look alike. The birds live in flock as in a colony sharing the area where they forage for seeds and grains, very common to see them in rice fields though their nests may be some distances away. Beside seeds, they do feed on insects, geckos and mollusks. Like Sparrows they also descend on to sandy patches on the ground for their sand bath.

We all love to know more about this birds, the way we like to know as all others birds. Weaver Birds in general needs special mention. The Baya Weaver that I know of, is a bird of exceptional talent and display its skills like an artist.

Choice of location for nest. Some leaders must have the experiences and skills to survey and develop the site for the colony. The colony with its many pendulous nests could be exposed, very near to places that humans frequent yet, helps to protect them for other predators aiming for their eggs and hatchlings. I thought among all the possible predators, human would stand out as the immediate danger. Known for raiding their homes and removing the fruits of their hard work - taking away the empty nests Apparently not, perhaps the artist bird has weighed those possibilities and also the possible need to subsequent to rebuild nests. Faster than the rate nest are raided.

 Not true in real life. The birds seem to understand that no one was taking away the nest as long as the nests are not within easy reach. Therefore, all location of nest have their strategic deterrent, more often than not within an area of soggy ground! Other factor like thorns from the Acasia trees and high coconut palms have being chosen by other colonies.

There further 2 more points about these pendulous nests. Second point to note, is about the artistry that goes into weaving the nest and the lastly the third point is about the construction design itself. Figures were quoted like, the bird making in the region of 500 flights to strip the blade of the leaves and bringing them back for use. These are fine strips, long strands of fresh green leaves. Then each of these strips are weaved and interlocked, ending up doing about 3500 stitches" in the whole process by the time the nest is finished. That's not all!

During construction process, the on-going weaving was all we could see but there others planning and scheduling processes that we may not be unaware of. The construction process start with stage 1, forming the "Helmet". For this exercise the bird decides on its location and anchorage point, then proceed alone in getting the "foundation" ready.

With its completion, the male would then seek its mate. Upon successful acquisition, the female bird would join the male bird but remain inside while the male would start stage 2 in bringing more materials to prepare the floors and the chambers. This process done jointly, the male would be responsible for the outer wall of the chamber and the female preparing a suitable nest within the chamber.

Still unclear is the placement of the nest within the chamber and this talk of the Monsoon seasons. In many places nests are built during the wet season. I suppose that the heavy rain and the strong wind would give hint to the birds on the placement of the nesting platform inside. The direction where the whole nest would be swinging to and that the eggs inside on the platform would not drop out when the pendulous nest is taken to an extreme angle.

One more minor but important point would be, at all angles and direction, the nest is brought to by the wind, the nest itself would not be coming to close to any rigid branches or leaves where predator could make an easy cross over. With the situation firmed, stage 2 with the platform would properly located. On completion, the last stage 3 determining where the entrances would be, is seen added. The late stage, longer pertrution is evident by the green building materials as against the light brown portion of the earlier stage 1&2.

Similar to an engineering task, stage 1 is completed in 8 days while stage 2 with stage 3 usually within the next 10 days, cumulating a total of 18 days. The skills in keeping up with this consistency in executing can only be overtaken by the intricate way the final design of the nest and the level of craftsmanship shown. Yet there are good numbers of failed nest. Reason being a miscalculation in the swinging pattern of the nest or perhaps the inconsistent pattern of wind direction. This has resulted in poor position of the platform and the eggs dropping out.

I am not sure about variation is style of building by other Weaver Birds as I have only met up with only one species in Malaysia, the Baya Weaver.

 

Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus
   

The 3 other species found in South East Asia but not in malaysia are:-

 
Black-breasted Weaver Ploceus benghalensis [India]
Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar [same as the Baya]
Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus [Sumatra, Java]
 

Baya Weaver  Ploceus philippinus inforunatus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- This bird is 15 cm. Very colorful when in breeding plumage, having yellow crown and unstreaked brownish chest. Upper part heavily streaked

 Distribution :-  The birds home are in the Indian Sub-continent, south-west China, Sumatra, Java and Bali. It is resident in Malaysia as well.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland birds found at the edges of cultivated area. Places with a lone big scrub amidst and very soggy or inaccessible spot.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Along riverbanks, abandoned vacant land, edge of farm with wet patches, all over the country
 

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos , ,

 

Baya Weaver  # 1

Baya Weaver   # 2

Baya Weaver   # 3

Baya Weaver   # 4

Baya Weaver   # 5

Baya Weaver  # 6

Baya Weaver   # 7

Baya Weaver  # 8

Baya Weaver   # 9

Baya Weaver   # 10

Baya Weaver  # 11

female   # 12

female - new occupants   # 16

Baya Weaver  # 17

Baya Weaver   # 18

 
 My personal jottings on this Baya Weaver Birds-

 The bird has studied the capabilities of predators and human, to make sure that these could not make their way into the spot where the nest is located. Apart from that single fact, nest could be in full  view, open areas and with plenty of animals activities.

Towards the lower part of this album I inserted 3 situations where the nest were found. All these 3 spots were exceptional places and not seen elsewhere. Malaysian has the tendency to collect the nest and use them as ornamental piece in patios and garden. To collect the nest, the poachers needs a long long pole to dislodge the anchorage which usually ends up with the anchor points damaged. The birds seem to know that. Nests though very near could not be plucked by hand.

 

The industrious Weaver birds make new nest for each season, suppose to prove their prowess, productivity or skills in delivering a better new generation. Not surprising to see many new nests beside the old. Does the many new nest means that the old nest do not  get evaluated each time? With factors such as the flaws of last season or the prevailing weather needs an alternative design. It's easier to build a fresh nest than the hassle of refurbishing and old one.

Having an awareness and some figures that each nest needed close to 4,000 acts of weaving in completing the whole process, the next time you look at this cluster of nests, admire the skills behind the hard work and the final beautiful creation.

So tempted to have this beautiful work of art to decorate the garden, think twice! It is the hard work and the need to propagate that created these wonders. It is meant to be admired.