On one of our birdwatching trails we found a flock of Baya weavers foraging a field. Trying to predict which direction they are going to head next and figuring out a pattern in their flight is indeed one of the best ways to spend the weekend . Baya weavers are very social birds, and forage in flocks looking for seeds.
Male Baya weavers are spectacularly coloured only during the breeding season. The rest of the time both the male and the female look the same, with sparrow-like brown plumage.They sometimes nest in colonies of up to 20 or more pairs, and choose a site near a water and food source. The males use their strong beaks to strip and collect strands of grass or to tear leaves from other plants. The strands are then weaved and knotted into the nest. Lumps of dry clay may be inserted around the rim to stabilize the nest in strong winds.
In about 18 days , the male makes about 500 trips to bring the nesting material to complete the nest .
Because the Baya Weaver uses grasses from the tall rice plants and eats pests and grains, the Baya Weaver adjusts its mating rituals and schedule to the three major rice planting seasons in South Asia.
It has also been observed that the opening of the nest in most cases is in the direction opposite to the South west monsoon winds else the eggs will fall out of the nest .
Males build many partial nests that resemble helmets and begin courting females . The female comes and inspects the nest , if she finds it impressive enough she stays in the nest . Only on approval of the female the male completes the nest. The female lays eggs and incubates them . Males may sometimes assist in feeding the chicks. After mating with a female the male typically court other females at other partially constructed nests.
The female often chooses a nest that is well-constructed and is safe from predators and harsh weather. Research has shown that the choice of nests by the female Baya weaver birds appears to be more closely related to nest location than to nest architecture.
It is amazing to know that these birds are so thoughtful in choosing their nests to provide a secure future for their young ones .
Photo credits : Kannan and Poornima