Nature

On monsoons and mating rituals…

As the sky grows overcast, ‘tis time for the shrill, raspy chatters of Baya weavers to fill up the tree tops, yet another one of those elaborate and enchanting courtship rituals of the avifaunal kingdom… the seemingly fickle constructs of grass it calls a nest swaying at the slightest of breeze yet sturdy enough to bring up a brood… in a kaleidoscopic world where nesting can be anything from a hole dug in a ground to snuggling up on the edge of a thousand foot cliff, the Baya weaver is a believer in sheer rigour over daredevilry, painstakingly building its castle one strand at a time…

baya weaver (male) in breeding plumage, haldwani, uttarakhand, india

‘Tis an amusing ritual to observe, a dozen of so males scurrying about in all earnestness, the ones with their nests nearing completion putting the finishing touches on the interiors, the ones starting out shrieking with panic attacks at the sight… all the while the female watches nonchalantly a couple of branches away, inspecting a nest or two from time to time before flying back, awaiting a few more options…

This flock was midway through the building phase, the nests on the lower branches mostly complete and the laggards grudgingly threading away on the higher, less stable branches… this was prime real estate, with a small rice field some were trying their luck prematurely with half-built nests but to no avail… in between one could spot a chameleon slithering slowly on the tree trunk in complete contrast to pandemonium of the birds, and a coffee bee hawkmoth was flitting away on the lantana bushes, at a pace sort of about average between the two…

baya weaver (male) in breeding plumage, haldwani, uttarakhand, india

For rains resemble a jam session where one melody seamlessly evolves into another, and these passerines are the keenest improvisers – picking and plucking, knitting and nit-picking, flying and fabricating – there is an appreciable amount in ingenuity in conjuring up inverted cylinders out of tidbits and a beak, for the labouring male though, ‘tis all about catching a break…

baya weaver (male) in breeding plumage, haldwani, uttarakhand, india

Musings on Baya weaver (Ploceus philippinus), Haldwani, Uttarakhand

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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