Baya Weaver – less common nesting sites

posted in: birds, Nesting | 0

Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus infortunatus) nesting is familiar to all of us. From my experience it is usually over water or other sites with difficult access to humans and in tress with Oecophylla ants (Weaver Ant or locally called Keranga Ant). At times they build, in large communities, in very tall Coconut Palms with nests attached to the fronds. Less commonly I have seen them use reeds. I once saw a young adult male do this but the nest episode failed (Amar 2010). Quader 2006 studied ‘What makes a good nest?’ and concluded that “nest location is a slightly better predictor of success than nest architecture”. “Although nesting success increases with nest height, thickness of the supporting branch, building in thorny trees and woven with fine fibre” … however female choice of nests is influenced more by location than by architecture”.

Baya Weaver nest anchored around a pair of reeds.

They are a number of threats to Baya Weaver nests including lizards, snakes, crows, etc. But as Oschadleus 2014 states (and I fully agree) “Nest destruction by humans is probably the most important source of loss”.

Baya Weaver nests built among reeds.

Ulu Dedap in Perak is a large rice growing region where there is a sizable population of Baya Weavers. I suspect the Weaver ants like the site due to plentiful supply of food – one of their favourite grains, the Pennisetum purpureum (Elephant Grass), is abundant here (planted as a wind breaker along ditches). But tree nesting sites are limited. There are few trees which are scattered at the edges of some of the padi fields but all are easily accessible to man and very visible. All the birds I saw nesting, on this occasion, were building their nests on reeds (2 images above) or tall grass (2 images below).

Baya Weaver nests among tall grasses.

Building on reeds requires special skills on how to anchor the nest (top image). Unlike a tree or frond where they can have one attachment point, here the attachment is spread out or lengthened. What I found really unusual was the few birds that were building their nests among tall grasses (above, below). This was grass 2-2.5 meters high and they had somehow anchored the nests to a number of grass leaves at about 1.5 meters. Contrary to Quader 2006 work on female acceptance influenced by location, one of these nests was already approved and the female was assisting in the building (below – note two birds building the nest). Unlike my previous experience, these birds would not fly elsewhere to get nesting material but just harvest it adjacent to the nest. I suspect the birds use the tall grass and reeds to nest in this location as they offer protection from animal prey – the grass or reeds are too soft to hold the weight of many of the predators.

Baya Weaver nests among tall grasses. Note the two birds building the nest.

I have concerns with this nesting site. The tall grass is not as hardy as a tree branch and may not last the nesting period. Being low down, it is also fairly accessible to humans. With grass all over, even in front of the nest, I also wonder how easy it will be for birds to enter the nest, especially when feeding young.

References:

  1. Amar-Singh HSS. 2010. Baya Weaver’s failed attempt at nest building. Bird Ecology Study Group. Available here: https://www.besgroup.org/2010/12/05/baya-weaver%E2%80%99s-failed-attempt-at-nest-building/
  2. Suhel Quader. 2006. What makes a good nest? Benefits of nest choice to female Baya weavers (Ploceus philippinus). The Auk. 123 (2): 475–486. Available here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4090676?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  3. Dieter Oschadleus. 2014. Weaver Watch: Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus. Available here: http://weavers.adu.org.za/sp.php?spp=4186
  4. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Baya weaver. Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baya_weaver

 

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

 

Location: Ulu Dedap, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive Rice Growing region, providing wetlands

Date: 7th February 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Micr

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