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  • Aditya Singh

The Talented Tailorbird

What makes this bird special?

The fact that it can sew its own nest!!! It is among very few birds with this unique ability.


Looking for food…


It has a rosy crown, red eyes, its beak is long and curved, the body is greenish from above with greyish brown wings and the underbody is whitish. The tail is long and it grows longer in the breeding season.


It eats tiny insects that dwell under leaves and in the bushes. I have even seen one clinging on to a stone wall / concrete wall and picking insects from the tiny crevices with millimeter precision.


on a concrete wall…

It makes its nest inside a ‘shell’ made of 2 – 3 fresh live green leaves – either on a plant, a tree or inside a hedge. It painstakingly sews the leaves together in zigzag stich pattern using plant fibers as thread. The holes made in the leaves, for sewing them together, are reinforced using plant fiber and inside it makes its nest by arranging the plant fiber in a fine intricate mesh.


An abandoned nest. Note the sewing…

The nest itself is funnel shaped. The final structure is tested for its strength – the bird jumps up and down on it to make sure it holds. This entire structure is so well hidden that one can’t make it out even when one is inches away from it. Inspired by the Tailorbird, once my mother decided to test my sewing skills. I have to admit I failed totally in that even when I had all the tools, easier materials and my hands to work with, whereas the bird has only its beak.

Brain or Instinct?

I have read numerous articles attributing this unique skill of the Tailorbird to instincts. I beg to differ but will leave that judgement to you. To me it is all brain – it knows exactly what it is doing and how it will make its nest. It cannot be plain instinct.


The nest I was following got destroyed because of tree felling – something that is beginning to damage the environment already. Also, even hedges are trimmed for beautification which damages the ecosystem that the Tailorbird thrives in. Rampant use of insecticides and pesticides is another threat as that means less food for this bird.

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