- Aditya Singh
The Skillful Baya Weaver
They look like sparrows but instead of brown, they are sunshine yellow colored with black beaks and eyes. Males have dark faces and throats that contrast sharply with their yellow crown and bib. The lady Baya unlike the male, has no dark face, beak or neck and the yellow is very pale.
The most amazing thing about the male is its ability to actually weave its nest!
How does he do it?
At first, he begins by visiting tall grass fields, collects his raw material, strips the grass leaves into narrow thread-like strands.
Here, the grass leaf has been stripped down to make it resemble a string…
Then, he loops the grass strands on a selected branch to make the nest foundation secure. This looks like a ring and it ensures that the rest of the nest remains attached to the branch and remains secure.
The ring above the bird is 1st stage. The one below is shaping into a ‘cave’.
He then starts weaving and his ‘nest’ starts to look like a hanging cave with a round entrance. The inside may be reinforced with blobs of mud/dung.
Master weaver hard at work…
At this stage, he starts to sing and dance by flapping his wings while checking for any remaining gaps. This is his way of attracting attention from the ladies.
Egg Chamber is ready…time to make some noise & catch the attention of a lady…
Now, the shape starts to change, becoming broader at the base and bulging towards one side, away from the entrance. This will eventually become the egg chamber.
Drawn in by his advertising, the lady inspector comes in to check.
Her inspection is thorough. If she approves, she moves in. Our weaver then proceeds to add an entrance tunnel to complete the nest.
The completed nest…Egg chamber is on the left, entrance is the tunnel like structure on the right…
The male generally sustains injuries around his beak while making the nest as the grass strands are rough and sharp.
My parents tell me that this bird used to be very common when they were younger but these days they are becoming difficult to find.
Tree-felling due to urbanization and farmer-bird conflict are the main reasons for their decline. Also, grasslands are disappearing due to human activity. That means less material for their nests and less food as well.