Knot all there

Rajeev Tyagi | Updated on September 07, 2018

Once a common sight in India, weaver birds are today an endangered species, listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Ac

In many parts of India, the sight of a weaver bird building its nest indicates that the rains are around the corner. Identified by their bright yellow crest, there are four species of the bird indigenous to the country — the baya weaver, streaked weaver, black-breasted weaver and Finn’s weaver.

Come monsoon, and the male gets busy weaving the nest thanks to his unique ability to tie knots. The female inspects the ready nests and picks her mate accordingly. The birds are polygamous, that is they have several mating partners. The location, design and comfort level of the nest are crucial to guaranteeing a successful breeding season. Most nests are cylindrical, with a narrow entrance at the top.

Unlike the African weaver birds, which live communally in one giant nest, the Indian species typically nest in colonies of 20 to 30, ideally located near a source of food and water. They feed on insects and spiders, and supplement the diet with seeds. Loss of habitat, particularly grasslands, is leading to a decline in their numbers.

The Bombay Natural History Society organises an annual programme for bird watchers to take documentary evidence and keep count of the weaver birds in their vicinity, usually in June, right before the onset of the monsoon. In the survey conducted from June 4 to June 11, 2017, Odisha led the count with 3,401 sightings of nests. In all, 6,354 birds were spotted nationwide, across the 18 states surveyed. This year, Odisha hit an all-time record with sightings of 11,676 birds, according to the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN).

Rajeev Tyagi

Published on September 07, 2018

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