Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weaver Controversy

When I checked our little chap's nest 2 days ago [SEE: previous 5 blog-entries], I thought it was showing signs of "wear & tear" (= see bottom of nest); BUT it turned out to be an "optical illusion" because on closer inspection ...

... this is what I found: a nest well-constructed & "furbished" to welcome an "inmate".

In the mean time whilst doing some research (reading up in Robert's Birds of Southern Africa & on Google), I discovered: a Myth = an Urban Legend, which is generally told when the subject "Masked weavers" is under discussion.

It goes like this: if a female Masked weaver doesn't like the nest a male has built, SHE tears it down & he can start all over again. Fact is: if a female doesn't accept a nest, THE MALE (himself) tears it down (!!) & then starts the whole process over by constructing another nest - mostly for another (more appreciative, I guess) female.

Back to our little "hero" - that day NOT a busy little chap - where was he? What was he doing instead of trying to attract a mate hopefully interested in his nest?

I finally found him in another part of our garden. But what was he doing? What had caught his attention?

It was our sprinkler! And our little chap wanted to take a shower! After all, it was rather hot that day.

Whilst he was having fun, I went (on his behalf!!) to check out the "opposition" - & found not 1 but 3 nests in a tree on the other side of our house!

Like our little chap on the other side of the house had done before, a male Masked weaver was "seriously" busy "displaying".

When the male suddenly flew off, I thought he felt threatened by my presence. When the weavers (males & females) continued to chirp in a highly agitated way, I realised that I hadn't caused their "unhappiness" - but what did?

On looking up I discovered the real "enemy" - a Black-shouldered kite sitting on a pole just above the Masked weaver nests! Back in the house I read up on what "constitutes" this bird's food: apparently 98% of the kite's diet is rodents; other: shrews, reptiles, insects & ... small birds!! No wonder the weavers were so agitated because I had heard something, which had a rather sinister undertone:

... the drier, upper nest of the 3 weaver nests actually housed baby weavers. This was confirmed when I re-visited the nests & watched a female feeding her young, which were chirping unabatedly the moment she fluttered close.

The moral of this story: hopefully the chicks will be safe = the Black-shouldered kite won't return to catch them unawares!

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