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Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus infortunatus   - Feeding behaviour
Baya Weaver
Photographer : © Amar-Singh HSS
Location :Tambun Interior, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Date : 5 April 2015
English synonyms:Baya, Common Weaver
Bird Family :Ploceidae - Weavers & Fodies
Red Data Status :Least Concern
Remarks :I spotted a small flock of 7-8 Baya Weavers feeding on the nectar of the Callistemon sp. (Bottlebrush) trees. This came as a total surprise to me. I have seen them take a large range of grain/seeds as well as animal prey for nestlings. But I have yet to observe or read records of nectar feeding. I first spotted this briefly with one bird at 8.45am in the morning but dismissed it as unlikely and possibly my mistake. But on my way back at 10am I re-checked and this time a small flock was at it; going from flower to flower to harvest the nectar. The Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Crimson Sunbirds were not pleased with this an there was some competitive feeding. There is no doubt from my numerous observations. They are not feeding on the seed capsules or any animal prey in the tree.

A net search revealed some support:
1. The Weaver Watch (Monitoring the Weavers of the World) site states about food that “The Baya Weaver feeds on seeds, including those of grass, rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, millet and sunflowers. Insects include grasshoppers, flies, termites, beetles, caterpillars and butterflies. It also feeds on nectar, spiders, small snails, and rice frogs. Rice is often the most important food item.” http://weavers.adu.org.za/sp.php?spp=4186
2. One site maintained by the Indian Institute of Technology lists nectar as a food source: http://agropedialabs.iitk.ac.in/iitkbirds/wiki/baya-weaver
3. Some other Weavers (e.g. Southern masked weaver) are also are noted to take nectar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_masked_weaver

I wonder if this is an under observed activity or one learned by watching other birds? If it is a ‘regular’ activity, is it possible that they feed on nectar prior to nest building, to boost energy reserves for the tough job?

- Amar

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