Baya Weaver's Nest

Once upon a time huge number of retort-shaped Babui’s nests were hanged from the coconut trees of my home. The small sparrow type gregarious bird commonly known as Baya Weaver but in Bengali we called them as Babui pakhi". These birds are famous for the elaborately woven nests hanging from tree's twig. The colour of both male and female birds is grey but during their breeding season the male becomes yellow in colour with a crown. 

I spent some time in my childhood to explore the type and stage of the nest, the weaving process of the nest by the birds and now I realise those moments were really worthyIt was really an excellent experience to exploring the phase of the nest. Even I used to collect the abandoned, broken or old nest when those were dropped off to the ground. 

The awesome nests mostly can be found in villages not in the cities, specially in India. Nowadays it's rare to see them due to lot of man made changes... recently I went to Bagalkot, Pattadakal, Badami, and other nearby villages of Karnataka and where I have seen these amazing nests after a long period.

The nests are mainly weaved by the male Baya weaver bird. The first stage of the nest alike a half balloon with a bridge in inside hanging from the tree's twig. During their breeding season in monsoon the male birds started to weave the pendulous nests and at the state of partially built they begin to display their nests from the hanging nests to the passing females by flapping their wings and calling. A continuous chit-chit... wheezy sound is reflecting during the breeding period. The attracted female birds inspect the nest and signal their acceptance to the male birds.

After pairing of the birds, male one started to come complete the remaining nest and it is shaped like a helmet in the 2nd stage of nest formation, where a single hole is being covered through the weaving. In the last stage a long vertical tubular tunnel is added to the remaining hole which creates the entrance for the nest and the covered hole becomes the central nesting chamber. It takes about 18 days to complete the nest and from the helmet stage around 8 days are required. 

The male birds are solely in charge of building the nest, whereas their female partners are involved in interiors through adding the blobs of mud, clay or cow dung to the nest wallsIn India mainly at villages a widespread folk is believed that the Baya bird sticks the fireflies in those blobs to light up the nest at night. Male birds also alone have been seen to add blobs to the nest chamber prior to pairing with a female. However according to study of the birds' behaviour it has been suggested that the clay may help to stabilise the nest against strong winds. The female birds prefer nests high in trees.

The nests are woven with  long strips torn from palm fronds, long strips of paddy leaves and using the rough grasses. The length of each strip can be from 20 - 60 cm and around 500 strips are required to complete the nest. The nests are often built near water bodies or in quite high level so it can be safe from the predators. The nests are often located on the eastern side of the tree, where they are believed to provide shelter from the Southwest Monsoon. The abandoned nests are sometimes used by mice and other birds such as Munias.

Mostly the colony of nests are  found on coconut trees in northeast India and thorny trees in southwest India. According to the taxonomy there are 5 categories of Baya have been found in the world. In northeast and southwest India 2 different types of Bayas are found which are Ploceus philippinus burmanicus and Ploceus philippinus travancoreensis respectively. 

From some notes during the time of Akbar it has been found that the Baya weaver was trained by the street performers in India for entertainment. 

Reference: Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali, Indian Ornithologist and Claud B. Ticehurst, British Ornithologist.


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