Friday, December 10, 2010

Disaster Strikes

Instead of "relaxing" after destroying a nest or finishing the nest the Masked weaver started building, our master-builder-cum-master-destroyer starts building yet another nest (see: bottom on photo)! So 6 nests isn't a "bad" number after all - right?

However a storm is brewing towards the evening & as night falls, its force is "unleashed". In the weak light of a torch I see how the nests are being "wipped" around by a ferocious wind - & I fear for the safety of the tiny weavers in one of the nests. Will they be able to survive & not fall out?

First thing the next morning I open the curtains & as I had feared, one nest didn't survive - but thank goodness, the nest with the junior weavers is intact!

A nest in the centre of the "colony" is missing - & is lying under the tree on the ground. What a disaster!

The nest "belonged" to the cute female I had watched with interest the day before . . .

. . . adding "cushioning" feathers to the inside of her "nest of choice". As I commiserate with the unfortunate female . . .

. . . I notice that the male weaver has also "discovered" the fallen nest on the ground. On his behalf, I reflect that the nest had a sturdy look about it, yet it had not survived the storm. I'm sympathising with the male now . . .

. . . only to observe that he doesn't deserve pity! Yes, the master-builder still is also a master-destroyer, and with obvious determination, he "tackles" the nest, ready to also tear it apart! Something distracts him, though, & I impulsively hurry outside to "save" the nest (at least for now). Why? Because I want to inspect it first at "close quarters"!

In contrast to my eagerness to learn as much as I can from checking out the nest, I didn't expect to find an egg inside!!

So this is what a Masked weaver egg looks like - or is it another bird's egg? I'm asking, because I've heard a Diederik cuckoo calling regularly & I also know that Diederik cuckoos are known as "Brood Parasites", meaning they they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. According to Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, the egg I found looks like a Masked weaver's BUT: a Diederik's egg matches the host egg!!

With all this "drama" going on, I'm at least relieved to see that the junior weavers appear to have survived the storm, because I "catch" (on camera) the female weaver feeding them flying off.

Food for thought: once I arrived home (from my last tour) & starting right away to "record" the weavers "going-ons", I had observed 2 tiny beaks "reaching out" for food the moment the female arrived to feed them. Lately, though, I only see one little beak reaching out & it also "sounds" like only 1 voice "chirping". After studying Roberts again & hearing a Diederik cuckoo calling in the vicinty, I'm now aware that about 4 days after hatching, a Diederik-cuckoo-nestling "evicts" eggs and/or the young of the host! Is the female lately only feeding 1 youngster or am I mistaken?

Watch this space for more information - I'm keeping close watch & once the time arrives, I will hopefully be "on my place" to record WHO leaves the nest - a weaver youngster or an "imposter"?

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