Posts Tagged 'lizard'

baya weavers nesting

Posted by on 04 Sep 2016 | Category: photography, prakriti

It is nesting season for the baya weavers!

Baya weaver birds are small, sparrow-size birds which resemble the sparrows during the non-breeding season. During May-June, as the breeding season approaches, their gonads (sexual glands) become active and the adult males develop yellow and black color plumage on head, breast and throat; and their bills also darken. By the time the monsoon starts, the males are in bright yellow summer colors, and ready for breeding through the monsoon season (June-September).

baya weaver nest building

Why do they breed during the summer monsoon? Obviously, the grass is green during this side of the monsoon! Baya weavers forage in flocks for seeds on wild grass like these below, which are plenty after the monsoon rains. This is also the time when insects are plenty, especially to feed their young. How many bayas can you count in the image below?!

a group of baya weaver birds feeding on grass seeds

Nesting success? Baya weaver nests are exclusively built by the males and then displayed to the females. What are the factors on which the female makes it selection? Among birds, elaborate nests and decorations built by males may help females to assess a male’s quality. One of the most popular architectural attributes of the weaver nest is the entrance tube, which can get as long as 90 cm. Female birds are also selective in choosing nests which provides safety (in terms of nest height and location). So what does the baya weaver base their selection on? Is it the architecture or the location?

baya weaver nest building at Pune, Maharashtra

Safer on thorny trees: Observation shows that the female weavers are inclined towards nests which are safely located in thorny trees, farther away from the trunk and situated high above the ground. Thornless trees have higher rates of snake predation than thorny trees. Nesting success also increases with with thickness of the supporting branch and for nests which are woven with fine fiber.  Thick branches may stabilize nests during strong monsoon winds, and may also be less likely to break.

baya weaver and a garden lizard against the blue sky

Despite these precautions, garden lizards like the one above, and tree mouse do occasionally raid these nests.

Some history: Baya weavers and their unique nesting nature were first recorded in Ain-i-Akbari, the 16th-century document recording the administration of Akbar’s empire, and which is part of the a much larger document, the Akbarnama. The Volume III translation by Colonel H. S. Jarret talks about wild/domesticated bayas: “The baya is like a wild sparrow but yellow. It is extremely intelligent, obedient and docile. It will take small coins from the hand and bring them to its master, and will come to a call from a long distance. Its nests are so ingeniously constructed as to defy the rivalry of clever artificers.”

Species: Ploceus philippinus
English: Baya weaver
Location: IITM colony, Pune, Maharashtra
Date: 3 Sep 2016

References:
1. Balasubramanian, K. S., & Saxena, R. N. (1973). Effect of pinealectomy and photoperiodism in the reproduction of Indian weaver birds, Ploceus philippinus. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 185(3), 333-340.
2. Fazl, A., & Jarrett, H. S. (1983). The Ain-i-Akbari:. Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal. (No. 61).

3. Quader, S. (2006). What makes a good nest? Benefits of nest choice to female Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus). The Auk, 123(2), 475-486.

fan-throated lizard

Posted by on 11 Feb 2010 | Category: photography, prakriti

These fan throated lizards belong to the family agamidae, the same family of the south indian rock agamas, which we came across in an earlier article.

fan-throated lizard, sitana ponticeriana, hyderabad
They are known as fan throated lizards as they have an expandable flap of skin under their throat, known as a dewlap or a gular fan. These lizards expand this dewlap like a fan, for various purposes like warning enemies, courtship, identifying the species, etc. We did not see this one expanding its fan. May be next time!
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cemeteries from around the world

Posted by and on 02 Nov 2009 | Category: life, photography

Cemeteries – they remind us of our forgotten past, and hint us on our imminent future.

Wherever we go, if time and distance permits, we try to make a visit to the local cemeteries. Cemeteries around the world have distinct styles, and talks a lot about the people of that region. They have a lot in common too…
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south indian rock agamas

Posted by on 12 Oct 2009 | Category: photography, prakriti

If you have been to the woods of Hyderabad, India, chances are that you might have met one of these colorful agamas – of the lizard family. These are the South Indian Rock Agamas, psammophilus dorsalis, also known as Peninsular Rock Agamas. Specifically, the ones you see in this article are the males in their breeding season, when they adorn bright red colors and stay on the rocks displaying their availability.
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skink mimicking a snake

Posted by on 02 Sep 2009 | Category: photography, prakriti

In the recent articles we talked about tactics from the snakes, spiders, birds and others for survival, and for saving their offspring.  In the picture below, you can see a skink (kind of lizards) mimicking the pose and the features of a snake, when it saw that I found him. It not only gave that pose, but put forth its forked tongue, like a snake! Continue Reading »