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Baya Weaver, Coorg

This is a tale about visual design in the natural world, and masterpieces created using proprietary Adobe technology. If you’re wide-eyed already, just hold your horses. This ‘Dreamweaver’ isn’t the popular web development tool, but a tech-savvy bird in Coorg, that goes by the name of Baya. The Baya Weaver is a master craftsman who weaves the most intricate nests, and finishes them off with artistic daubs of clay that make them perfect adobe constructions. There is an apocryphal story that this bird sticks fireflies, using clay, to the interiors of the nest walls, for ambient lighting. One doesn’t know the veracity of this story, though it is tempting to believe anything of this clever fella. Stories of the Baya’s intelligence and tractability are legion. For centuries, since the time of the Mughals, this bird has been beloved of street performers who make him fire toy cannons, string beads, pick up coins, and other such sleights of beak. Child’s play, one thinks, for someone who builds palaces for adult games! The male Baya, who typically looks like a house sparrow till breeding season, when he sprouts vivid yellow clothes and crown, is the principal architect and uses his half-complete nests to lure the ladies. Once a comely lass has approved the design, he finishes the construction, and the two disappear inside for some rest and recreation. Once done, it’s time to go to his other partial nests and see if more fish have bitten; the free-spirited Baya is polygamous by nature, and believes in making the most of a short monsoon. Once he approves of his next mate (who has the good taste to approve of his design sense), it’s time to complete the nest by building a beautiful, green entrance tunnel to carry his new bride in… and create the next generation of Dream-weavers.

Photograph: Samyak Kaninde Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy



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