BirdLife: The Magazine June 2017 - Page 24

THE SEX ISSUE MASTER OF CRAFT BAYA WEAVER Ploceus philippinus 2 The weaver family get their name after their ability to weave elaborate nests, which vary in size, shape and material depending on the species. The Baya Weaver chooses branches of thorny trees or palm trees above the water to weave grass leaves into their gourd-shaped nests, which can be as big as a football. As they’re a social species, they don’t like to nest alone – with up to 60 pairs nesting together in a single tree and more than 200 in some colonies. Found across Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, their breeding season coincides with the monsoons so researchers believe their nests are often located on the eastern side of the tree because it offers protection against the heavy rains. Photo tahirsphotography/Shutterstock METICULOUS ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD Calypte anna 2 This North American hummingbird builds tiny luxurious nests in trees or shrubs, mostly using plant fibers, downy feathers and animal hair, bound together by spider silk. They finish it off camouflaging the exterior with plant debris, moss or bits of lichen. The nest size ranges from 3.8 to 5.1 cm in diameter, about the size of a small espresso cup, laying two eggs the size of a coffee bean. NEST FEST Photo Mick Thompson/Flickr SPARTAN WHITE TERN Gygis alba Collecting grass, twigs, mud? Too much like hard work. Why bother building a nest when you can just lay your eggs on top of any branch? The White Tern’s minimalist nest consists of… literally nothing. A knot or crook on a tree branch is all it needs to incubate its single egg. Scientists speculate that they have evolved this behaviour as a result of nest parasites, found to be less common if there’s no nest in the first place. 3 When thinking about bird nests, most people may imagine the regular bowl-shaped receptacle of twigs and leaves, but birds’ nesting behaviours are as diverse as their courting rituals. Here are eight hand-picked nesting styles from around the world Irene Lorenzo Photo 18042011/Shutterstock 24 BIRDLIFE • JUNE 2017