Sex and the Birds: 9. Polygyny and Baya Weavers

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The Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) nest in colonies where their retort-shaped nests hang from the ends of branches. This provides limited security from predators, as invariably the nests will be shaken with any intrusion. Many nests are built near existing bees, wasps and hornet nests LINK 1 and LINK 2.

The male builds more than one nest (above, below left). Before a nest is completed, he courts the female. The female will inspect the semi-completed nest usually at the helmet stage LINK, enters it and tugs at the nesting material (below). If she is satisfied with the nest the male will complete it. There have been reports that if she is not satisfied with the construction, she will pull the nest down in a frenzy.

Once the female settles in the nest she will lay her eggs. She alone will incubate them and brood the chicks. She will leave the nest to forage for food, leaving the chicks alone. As the hanging nest is enclosed with the entrance pointing downwards, the chicks are relatively safe from predation as opposed to chicks in exposed nests. All this time the male will be busy enticing females to his other nests that may number up to three.

The mating system here is the polygynous form of polygamy – the male mates with more than one females while the females mate with only one male LINK. Although the females care for the chicks, the male may occasionally helps in feeding.

Credit: YC Wee (text), James Wong (images).

Reference:
Craig, A. J. F. K., 2010. In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & D. A. Christie (eds.). Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 15. Weavers to New World Warblers. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 74-197.

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