Selection of nest platforms and the differential use of nest building fibres by the Baya weaver, Ploceus philippinus Linnaeus 1766



The choice by the Baya weaver between different plant species as nesting
platforms and sources of nesting fibre was analysed on an agricultural study plot
at Chorao (15°30’N, 73°50’E), an island in the Mandovi estuary in Goa, India.
The bird chose eucalyptus over coconut palms, as shown by a higher ratio of
utilised trees to available trees and by the maintenance of significantly higher
numbers of total nests (t = 2.92, P < 0.05) and viable nests (t = 3.10, P < 0.05).
The wider anchoring area, providing a better display front for the male birds
competing for mates, and the protection against monsoon vagaries (such as
rains and winds) provided by the extensive drooping canopy of profuse branches
seem to have favoured of eucalyptus trees over coconut palms. The choice went
against short and medium sized coconut palms and tall eucalyptus trees, as
probably the former were more prone to the menace of intruders and the latter
were more exposed to strong monsoon winds. The birds exhibited a differential
use of nesting fibres to fabricate the different zones of the nest. Sugarcane
fibres, which probably provided better anchorage and stability due to their interlocking
silicious spicules, were used for the base, stalk and roof of the brood
chamber. Fibres from coconut leaves went into the construction of the entrance
tube and floor of the brood chamber, probably to provide added comfort to the
altricial young and incubating parent and to afford the required resistance
against wear and tear owing to frequent movements of the mother bird while
ferrying food to the young.
KEY WORDS: Baya weaver, Ploceus philippinus, bird, breeding, nest platforms.

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