Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The theme os this week's Corner View is the view out of your back window or door. As the whole of mine is blocked by a great big new villa, I decided that the view out of my office's rear window and back door, which opens onto a balcony, would be more interesting.
For the last few weeks I have watched a Rüppell's Weaver making his nests and trying to lure females into them. I have become quite attached to this little fellow and have lived through the emotional rollercoaster of his life, cheered his triumphs and shared the sadness of his disasters. During this period he has made more than ten nests. They are all woven from the fronds of one coconut palm tree which he flies backwards and forwards to. Oddly, it is not the nearest one, but he only seems to want the palm fronds from that particular tree. He then ties a series of knots around a thin branch and weaves the globular-shaped nests which he suspends from it. The female bird, when he attracts one, then inspects the nests, chooses the best one and lines it with leaves and feathers.
Rüppell's Weavers, given the chance, will be polygamous. In spring, he briefly managed to attract two mates. One of them laid eggs, which hatched, and he divided his time between building new nests and helping her to feed the chicks. This was his best time. but, then one day, I stared out of the window and sensed that something was wrong. He was alone and looked crestfallen. The females had gone. On a large branch just behind him, I saw a metre-long lizard, with a red and black head. I guessed it must have eaten the chicks because the feeding stopped and the chicks never emerged.
Since then, he has made several new nests and when he has failed to attract a mate to them, he has destroyed them in frustration, then started all over again in an attempt to make new, improved versions. On a couple of occasions recently, female birds have looked inside his newest nests and he has got very excited, fluttering his wings like crazy in a mating dance. But, to be honest, his newest nests are not as big or as well-constructed as the earlier ones. I fear his mating season will end without him producing any further offspring. I hope I'm wrong because I know he would be so elated if he had a mate and a new batch of chicks to feed.
In the top photo, you can see him feeding his ill-fated chicks, in the second he is building a new nest and in the third you can see some of the sadly-unoccupied finished products.
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