Baya Weaver – nectar feeding

posted in: Feeding-plants | 1

“I have said this before and it continues to be true – the longer I watch birds the more I realise how little I am aware of their behaviour and how more there is to discover. In addition birds are also changing and may learn new behaviours.

“I spotted a small flock of 7-8 Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus infortunatus) feeding on the nectar of the Bottlebrush trees (Callistemon sp.). This came as a total surprise to me. I have seen them take a large range of grain/seeds as well as animal prey for nestlings. But I have yet to observe or read records of nectar feeding.

“I first spotted this briefly with one bird at 8.45am in the morning but dismissed it as unlikely and possibly my mistake. But on my way back at 10am I re-checked and this time a small flock was at it; going from flower to flower to harvest the nectar.

“The Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Crimson Sunbirds were not pleased with this. I saw a Yellow-vented Bulbul chasing some away but it was futile task. Chase one and 5 more turn up behind your back. It was not easy to watch as they would go to the other side of the bush when I came to one side, so my video recordings did not work. But there is no doubt from numerous observations (see still images). They are not feeding on the seed capsules or any animal prey in the tree but on the nectar.

“A net search revealed some support for my observations:

1. The Weaver Watch (Monitoring the Weavers of the World) site states about food that “The Baya Weaver feeds on seeds, including those of grass, rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, millet and sunflowers. Insects include grasshoppers, flies, termites, beetles, caterpillars and butterflies. It also feeds on nectar, spiders, small snails, and rice frogs. Rice is often the most important food itemLINK.

2. One site maintained by the Indian Institute of Technology lists nectar as a food source LINK.

3. Some other weavers (e.g. Southern masked weaver) are also are noted to take nectar LINK.

“I wonder if this is a natural under-observed activity or one that has been recently learned by watching other birds? If it is a ‘regular’ activity, is it possible that they feed on nectar prior to nest building, to boost energy reserves for the tough job?”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
5th April 2015

Location: Tambun Interior, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth near limestone hills, vegetable and fish farms

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