Weaving houses of love

(No.3, Vol.4, Apr-May 2014 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Chim dòng dọc or weavers (Ploceidae) are a familiar sight from Central Vietnam down to the Mekong river delta. During the breeding season the males of the three different species (Baya Weaver, Streaked Weaver and Asian Golden Weaver) present in Vietnam, have varying amounts of yellow on their heads and hind necks. The females are brownish-yellow. They live in flocks and make nests on one tree. There are two kinds of nests, mistakenly called male and female nests. Actually, the weaver’s nest building is very complicated.

To conquer the female’s heart on the first date, the male builds her a nest that looks like a cute hat, with a tiny bridge, bent downward, for her to stand on. If the beautiful one is satisfied, their married life begins. The male will then build a new nest for his wife to lay eggs and feed the hatchlings.
The construction takes about two weeks, during which only the male works. His wife will just contemplate his work or wander around. This nest will have a cone shape, which swells on one side, connected to a peculiar sleeve-like tube that flares downwards to serve as the doorway. From afar, their happy home looks like a question mark hanging in mid-air.
The nest finished, both of them will check its every detail. If satisfied, they will mate and lay eggs. If the nest is not sturdy enough, or its colour is not regular (made from many kinds of leaves), then the female will quickly bite off the stem to let the nest fall, and her man will have to patiently build another one.
It may happen sometimes, that while the nest is under construction, a neighbour lady sneaks in to ‘consign’ an egg. If the wife finds that out, she immediately commands her hubby to seal the nest and weave a new one!
*Le Hoai Phuong is a freelance wildlife researcher

Text and photos by Le Hoai Phuong*
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