A tale of weaves and leaves

As the famous poem by Kofi Awoonor states, the weaver bird does preach salvation and teaches us to hope to see the wonderful creation of its nests of artistry.

While you might chance upon a sparrow in the urban scenario, the weaver, or as it is called in Bengali, the ‘Babui’ is a tricky customer, more at home in the rural villages. In the open land of the villages with their paddy fields, and the abundance of grains, and where rows of palm and coconut trees are seen, the ‘Babui’  birds build their beautiful and artistic nests. Even though I had seen images of the Babui’s nest in childhood books, I never saw one in person until in 2012, when I captured a Babui’s nest on a camera lens. It was in the village of Boshipota ( Near Uttarpara, Hooghly, West Bengal ) that I chanced upon this Babui bird’s nest on a palm tree, but without the bird itself. My first glimpse of the ‘Babui’ or the weaver bird was sometime between April and May 2013 a little distance away from my house, between two palm trees near Halisahar railway station.

Nest of Baya weaver-SAEVUS

Nest of Baya Weaver


In West Bengal, we can find four types of weaver birds. Among the most common is the Baya Weaver, better known as the ‘babui’ bird in Bengal. The scientific name of this weaver bird is Ploceus philippinus. Second is the Black-breasted Weaver, also called ‘Kalo buk babui’ or ‘sarbabui’ (Ploceus benghalensis). Next comes the Streaked Weaver or ‘Tiley Babui’ (Ploceus manyar). And finally is the Finn’s Weaver (Ploceus megarhynchus).


Streaked weaver

Streaked Weaver

The Baya weaver commonly frequents agricultural fields, preferring grass as their medium for building a nest. They can be seen in flocks over fields of grass. They hang their nests on palm or coconut trees, shaped like a cooking pot. They choose the spot for their nests depending on the availability of water. The Baya weaver bird is 15 cm in length. They reproduce in the months from May to September. During breeding season, the head of a male bird is bright yellow in color, helping to distinguish between the male and the female. Their beaks are brown and have brown and yellow streaks on their backs. The sides of the chest are yellow and the lower body is of a light cream color.

The Baya weavers swim in swamps and search for food in the field of crops. They damage many of the crops in the field. They also forage for grass to build their nests. Their cry is loud, the sound of the male bird is higher than the women bird. They flit together from one place to another and sit in one place again.

Their main food is grains, small snails, lizards, small frogs, etc. They live in communities, with a tree or a group of trees in a grove having 20 to 30 nests near each other. The place to build their nest depends on the availability of water, food and lodging equipment, which are available in abundance in fields. Once they complete weaving their nest, they start mating. If the female weaver birds like a nest, then they will enter it to lay the eggs. This is a continuous circle, which will start again at the next mating season when the males build artistic nests to entice mates.


Cover Photo: Black Breasted Weaver

Read also: Graceful, faithful, grey giants – on its way to extinction 

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About the Author /

Metallurgical Engineer by profession (Passed out from Jadavpur University, Kolkata in the year 1990), my keen interest is in wildlife photography and to write articles on wildlife.


  • Krishnajyoti Deb

    May 12, 2018

    I spent my childhood in village. There I witnessed many birds but Sparrow & Weaver were my favourite. Here in Barak (Northern Assam) mostly Baya Weaver are seen. The other three species were not known to me. Thank you author for this informative article.

  • Abhijit Ghosh

    June 23, 2021

    I am from Tribeni, Hooghly in our childhood we were used to see sparrow and baya in flocks but nowadays it is not spotted in our locality, reason not clear requested to enlighten.

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