In Singapore, Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) build their nests in colonies of 20-30, preferring coconut palms or low trees. The nest is expertly weaved from long thin strands of leaf blades that can come from the Guinea grass (Panicum maximum), strips of palm fronds or other tough fibres. A completed nest looks like an upside down flask with a downward pointing entrance chute. Within the swollen portion is the nesting area.
The nest has been described as: “a stocking hung by the toe, the heel enlarged to receive the eggs, while the entrance and exit are made through the leg.”
The nest hangs on a long thin structure (up to a metre long) tightly woven with grass leaves, swinging freely in the wind. This ensures that it is not easily accessible to potential predators, either from above or from neighbouring branches. Thus they are attached to the terminal of palm fronds or from the ends of branches. The birds recycle old nests, repairing any damage before reusing them. This can be easily detected by the colour of the fresh and dried grass blades.
The male bird builds the nest half way after which he tries to seduce the female by his courtship displays. If the female is interested, she will examine the uncompleted nest, after which he will complete building it or both will work together.
Sometimes the birds may bring in lumps of wet clay that are stuck to the interior wall of the nest.
Once the female lays her eggs, the male will move on and build another nest, leaving the female totally to herself to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. However, there are reports that this may not always be so - males have been observed bringing insects for the nestlings.
Text by YC and images by KC Tsang.
R. Subaraj has this to add: Have you heard the story about the female Baya Weaver snipping off the connecting cord if not satisfied after inspection, so the male has to start from scratch? Do you know if this is true for sure.
An excellent account of the nesting behaviour of Baya Weavers by Graeme Guy of the Nature Photographic Society (Singapore) can be viewed here.