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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baya's Blobitecture

Green Blobitecture
Blobitecture or blob-ism is a term for an architectural movement in which buildings have organic, amoeba shaped bulging forms. Blobitecture structures are usually buildings such as theaters, museums, or tourist attractions; constructed using glass and steel. Come the monsoon season, and one can find the inspiration for these blob-ism structures, suspended from tall palms or thorny acacia trees. They are the pendulum shaped nests of the baya weaver; built using green resources like palm fronds, paddy leaves or rough grasses.
During my stay in Moira village of Goa, I saw many baya nests precariously suspended from coconut palm trees. The freshly woven green nests would gradually turn brown with age, swinging gently in the monsoon winds. The bright yellow birds made countless trips from nearby rice fields to coconut tree tops, while making their masterpiece. Following is what I found out about the architect amongst birds; the baya weaver.

Baya weavers are seed eating birds; found near grasslands, plantations or marshy areas in the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia. They are related to the common household sparrow; so much so that the juveniles and females of the species even look like the sparrows. Baya are social birds that breed in groups. Often 15-20 nests can be found together in a typical baya colony. Another Baya relative, the African sparrow weaver builds multi-storied apartment nests, in which 100 to 200 pairs have separate flask-shaped nesting chambers entered by tubes at the bottom.

Inspection time
The nest is built by the male baya weaver between months of June- July. The structure of the nest is cylindrical, with a central nesting chamber and a long vertical tube that leads to the side entrance of the chamber. Such form of the nest prevents intrusion by predators like snakes or raptors. A male bird is known to make up to 500 trips to complete a nest. The birds use their strong beaks to strip and collect the strands from leaves and grasses, and to weave and knot them, while building their nests.
   The nests are partially built before the males begin to display to passing females by flapping their wings and calling while hanging from their nests. The female baya inspects the nest and signals its acceptance to the male. Once a male and a female are paired, the two complete the nest by adding the entrance tunnel. Baya females give “feminine” finishing touches to interiors by adding blobs of mud, which provides stability to the nest in windy conditions.

Adding finishing touches to the Nest
The nest building process can take up to 24-25 days. The baya family resides in this nest for a period of 35-40 days.  Next breeding season means construction of new nests. Abandoned baya nest are later utilized by mice or munias also known as the Indian Silverbill.

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