In the previous post, I mentioned about the aquatic birds in Vasai. These migratory birds are usually in Vasai during the monsoon period from July to September when small lakes and ponds appear all over the places offering better conditions for these birds to settle and breed and then move ahead. In this post, we move on to the forest and grassland Vasai birds and many of these resident Vasai birds are here throughout the year because they are not dependent only on fish for their food.
While most birds are hard to find, Baya Weavers luckily is easy to spot in my neighborhood. This means I get more time to research on these forest and grassland Vasai birds. They are very chirpy, playful and social in nature. These birds usually weave their nest close to a pond or a lake. Baya Weavers weave these unique bottle-shaped hanging nests made from fresh grass. The most interesting thing I love about these sparrow-sized birds is how they choose their mate.
The male baya weaver starts weaving the nest and when he is done halfway through he makes a high-intensity chee-chee sound to let females inspect his half-done nest. The female baya weaver inspects the nest thoroughly. If she likes it, she stays and the male bird will complete the remaining portion of the nest. If she doesn’t like it, she flies away, and the male bird re-builds it again from the scratch.
I did further research on Baya Weaver’s nest and found that typically it takes around 18-20 days for the bird to build a nest. This includes almost 500 trips from the grassland to the nest, picking up the right grass and weaving it carefully to impress the female.
On an average, there are 3500 grass strands woven intricately to support the eggs and the birds themselves.
Look out for the Acacia or palm trees as Baya Weavers usually build their nest high up to protect themselves from predators like snakes and rodents. Once they are gone after the monsoon season, these abandoned nests become home to other smaller birds looking for ready-made shelter.
The first time I saw Black Drongo I thought it was a swallow because of its dual-shape tail. Eventually, I found out that Black Drongo is quite different from a swallow. This guy is small in size but has a serious reputation of a fighter. I usually find black drongos during the early morning and evening time when they are sitting still observing patiently from high strung electric wires. It is hard to find them during the afternoon time when they probably return to their nest.
Black drongo feeds on insects and they usually stay close to birds like common myna, pied myna and egrets as they share common habitat and diet. You will also find Black Drongo usually sitting near electric poles because they feed on the insects that attract to artificial lights. Since Black Drongos has an aggressive behaviour, other birds like doves, orioles, pigeons, babblers and bulbuls make their nest in the vicinity. Black drongos can even mob birds twice their size if threatened and hence are the fiercest forest and grassland Vasai birds.
If I ever get to vote for the sweetest bird call it would be the Golden Oriole. This bright yellow-black bird has certainly made a place in my heart and I can occasionally hear its call during early morning hours. In this list, Golden Oriole is certainly the hardest to find and it can test your patience to the limits.
This shy bird never sits out in the open; at least, I haven’t seen it in all these years of observing. The female is green in colour and this makes it even harder for us to spot her on the tree. I still haven’t been able to see her clearly because of her perfect leaf-green plumage. Golden Oriole usually feeds on insects and fruits and certainly is a top favourite of all forest and grassland Vasai birds.
While common mynas are everywhere in Vasai Pied Myna or Asian Pied Starling still nest in limited areas. Compared to the common myna, these birds are not very bold and aggressive to hunt for their food. They look different from the common myna because of their black and white plumage and reddish bill. I usually see them close to areas where they can have access to open water and close to human settlements because they can pick up the leftovers rather than go hunting for food. They usually make their nest in man-made settlements or over electric poles and even in mango trees.
Spotted Munia looks identical to a common house sparrow because of its size and color. However, when you take a second look you realize that it certainly is different in many ways. Its distinctive scale-type feather marks on the breast and belly quickly allow you to identify this tiny bird. Very quick in the air, Spotted Munia is also known as Scaly-Breasted Munia or Spice Finch.
The movements and behaviour are very similar to a sparrow or a finch and they are usually in a group. They also tend to flick their tail more than the sparrows and I found that this tail flicking movement is a kind of social indicator helping them to flock and stay together. Spice Finch usually looks for seeds, berries, and small grains. They usually pick a nice spot close to paddy fields where they can get grains and water in plenty.