Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mother Nature’s Avian Architects/Builders

The Baya Weavers are only found in open grasslands and they are not often seen by Singaporeans. I remembered annual trips to Chao Chu Kang during Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day as a kid and seeing Baya Weavers nest hanging off trees in the refuse dump area near the Buddhist cemetery where my grandmother was laid to rest. Over the years the birds disappeared as the dumping activity got even busier as Singapore pursued economic progressed. Then the graves got exhumed and we never went back to that area since.
Recently, a flock of Baya Weavers were spotted nesting and I had to go back to see these birds from my childhood. Baya Weavers like Munias eat mainly grass seeds. These birds are usually dull looking but come breeding season, the males take on brighter colors in their breeding plumage. Breeding males have a bright yellow crown, dark brown mask, blackish brown bill; upper parts are dark brown streaked with yellow, with a yellow breast and cream buff below. They also become Nature’s gifted architects and builders as they start to build their amazing nests.
The Baya Weaver's nest hangs from a branch and looks like a tear drop with a funnel below. These nests are made entirely out of strips of grass which the birds collect by cutting a notch in a tall grass, and will last the birds through their breeding season.
The main contributing factor to the scarcity of these birds here is habitat loss. Baya Weavers depend on tall grasses such as Guinea Grass for both their food and for their nesting material. In addition, people harvest these nests for commercial purpose; they are sold as decorative items to adorn home gardens.

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