Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our garden hosts two bird nests

There are 3 trees and a few shrubs in our garden.  Commonly seen birds in the locality are House Crows, Crow Pheasants, Mynas, Barbets, Koels, Great Tits, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Indian Gray Hornbill, Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Pigeons, Spotted Doves, occasionally Spotted Munias, Kites, Kingfishers, Magpie Robins and Common Tailorbirds to name most of them.  That's quite a handful!  House Sparrows, of course are extinct from our locality long ago due to various environmental and social reasons. I'll show pictures of the birds  later.  But first I'll show how the Sunbird and Tailorbird made their nests in our garden.

Since there were so many birds visiting the garden searching for seeds or insects to feed upon, I have always wondered where they could be nesting.  One day in March 2008, I noticed a knotty thing overhanging the yard passage. It was the long branch of the Holmskioldia shrub.  The knotty thing was about 8 feet above the ground.  I thought it might be some nest.

This is the Holmskioldia shrub with attractive flowers.  The sunbirds love it for their nectar and frequently visit it but at that moment, I never thought it was the work of these sunbirds .......

until I took a closer look from another angle after some time.  Lo and behold!  I could recognize the curved beak of the sunbird!  Here was the young one peeping out!

There you are, closer!  I used the flash and the eye mirrors it. Look at the nest.  The white papery material is the cellulose which these Weaver Ants secrete to build the nest.  These sunbirds use it for their home as it is also a nice cover. The white colour means the nest is newly built, in this case at least.  They collect the fibrous material and also some soft cottony material for the bottom as a cushion.  I got to see it after it abandoned and went when the siblings grew and flew away. 

Instantly, it became a routine to watch the nest.  Fortunately, they were not much scared about our movement right below the nest.  The parents of course visited when we were at a safe distance.  I could hear two distinctive tweets from the nest made by two little ones, but I could see only one peeping out.  It was confirmed only when I saw this picture of the mother feeding the young ones - look at the two open beaks.

Even the father helped in feeding, bringing in little insects.  See the change in colour of feathers.

By this time it was 3 weeks of observation and see how the cellulose has faded in the summer sun.

After some time, I could hear the tiny tweets near the shrub as it was already flying out and getting lessons about searching food and flying to safety from their parents.  Gradually, I began to realize that the nest was no longer required as there were no visits or signs of activity in it.  I was not wrong.

Watching it for over a month was such a joyful experience for all of us at home.  I had kept the abandoned nest for many months until it withered away.   Lovely Nature! I had watched so much that I could recognize the tweets of the young ones even after 3-4 months when they flew in!  

Here are a few more pictures: 

One of the very rare occasions the sunbird took a dip in our birdbath, at least when I could capture it on camera.

This is the female Sunbird.

This variety is called as "Purple-rumped Sunbird" (click for Wikipidea info.) - notice the distinct change in appearance of the male bird.  These are very commonly found birds the size of the Sparrow. 

There are also many Common Tailorbirds in our area.  I've seen it from the time I was very young. This is also the size of the sparrow, maybe a wee bit smaller in my estimate.  Tuvvi Tuvvi is its famous call, often used by poets and song composers!  Its call is quite melodious, but listen to this noisy song with 'tuvvi tuvvi..' lyrics in a 1986 Kannada movie, a shame to the bird's reputation!

Now listen to its pleasing melody I captured in my garden in my YouTube video.  My garden fills with this music every now and then when a few of these fly by at their own times and it has the 'power' to absorb the heavy traffic noise outside!!  I knew this was called a Tailorbird because it sews up its nest.  But had never seen one, except in pictures.  

Very recently , while my morning coffee was going down the gullet during my beside-the-pond-sitting-on-the-stone-bench session, I noticed the huge leaf of the Almond Tree folded like a packet.  Closer observation revealed that it was a nest of the Tailorbird.  I could confirm instantly that it was that because I had by chance come across a fallen dry nest while sweeping up the leaves of that tree in February (when they all fall off).  

 It had a nice cotton cushion in its bottom and the sides of the huge leaf was neatly hemmed using strong fibre through holes to pass the 'thread' - not for nothing it is called the tailorbird!  After a couple of months, I was pruning the branches of that tree.  While clearing up the fallen branches, I noticed another nest.  Oh no! I felt.  

It was still under construction and still a lot of work to do. Now more work after losing it.  I could not do anything now. In the meantime, my friend Krishna Rao, knowing my interests, told me about a 'sparrow' making a nest in his home on his Betel leaf vine and even showed me a picture. Now I could tell him that it was THE Tailorbird's nest. 

After that happened, my pond-side 'spotting' took place.  See now. I was prepared with camera.  

 There it was!  They were flying in and out frequently now, meant that there were some inhabitants already in the nest and I could notice some vibrations too, just like the shake of a car when someone in it changes seat!

In the afternoon, I could hear the tiny 'tuvvi tuvvi' near the window.  I grabbed the camera and caught the above scene through the wire mesh. Indeed it was the baby already out with its tiny wings.  LQQks like a real baby!

Again in the evening, there was a photo session as I noticed the entirely family out, making a lot of noise and the tiny tweets sinking in with that of the parents'. I noticed this fella up there not having any fear or not knowing what to do next.

The parent was tweeting hard while perching close to this intruder.  Sensing danger is their top priority esp. in these times when they have additional responsibility of protecting its siblings. When they are not 'nesting' they would not do that or come as close as this.  In the meanwhile, the tailless youngster had managed to fly up to the cornice where the parent had come with a dose of food. Notice in the above picture the long tail feather plumage.  It will be elongated during the breeding season.

It is now feeding into its beak.

I think there were two babies.  This one (right) was some distance away and here it seems to be asking for food - it was getting dark by then.

After that I went in home and when I saw in the morning, interestingly, the nest had its bottom up!  The branch had grown a bit making the nest to tilt.  I now thought that it might have been the reason for them to be out of the nest as its entry was facing down!  See here.

The garden appeared silent today.  Wonder where those Tailorbird family was!  Hope the two youngsters survived. 

As a matter of coincidence, my friend Krishna Rao sent this video footage only yesterday.  He has compiled beautifully.  See and enjoy.  


Here are 'collaged' pictures of our 'Winged Visitors':

Most birds need water to dip or to drink.  Let's provide them a bit of facility with birdbaths, which is not difficult at all.  Look how they enjoy splashing in the water!  

I got a stone birdbath made a few months ago and here the RW Bulbul enjoys the splash.

Hope splashing in this blogpost also was enjoyable!




Absolutely fantastic post and pictures. How well youhave tabulated the building of the various nests! Really awsome.
P. S. Do you live in Paradise? :).

rajan manoharan said...

In my house a tailor bird has built a nest last week and to my surprise i saw today three little eggs in it. Im Monitoring it very carefully. Ive taken pictures of the same, which i shall post it soon. Now trying for a vedio of the two little birds which fly around my garden.
Me at Coimbatore South India.Thanks so much