Common Tailorbird, Coorg
Tailors stitch clothes. Or that’s what we’ve always believed. In Coorg, however, they sew, rivet and stitch ready-to-occupy homes. There is an entire community of seamstresses in this neck of the woods, who give ‘tailor-made’ homes a whole new meaning, creating plush, bespoke dwellings that are a far cry from the assembly line apartments that make concrete jungles so claustrophobic. The Common Tailorbird of Coorg has a rather uncommon avocation, and earns her name by being a tailor-par-excellence. While on the subject of names, her scientific name, Orthotomus Sutorius, means ‘Cobbler’ rather than ‘Tailor’, but we’ll soon see why both labels sit snugly on her crown, jostling for space, as they do, with ‘Architect’. It is all about the method behind the craftsmanship of the famous nest-homes she builds. First she takes a large leaf, preferably a live one, which is curled by twisting spider strands around it to form a cup. Then the edges are joined together by making a series of uniformly spaced holes that are so tiny, they don’t cause browning, and stay camouflaged. Then she draws plant fibre, insect silk or even stolen household thread through the punctures to form separate loops that she teases into a ‘knot’ on the outside, almost like rivets. The methods she uses are technically classified as Sewing, Riveting, Lacing and Matting. Building over, it’s time to furnish the home, and the inside is layered with grass and lined with kapok fibre and soft, fluffy seeds to create a cushy pad for the new family. Then it’s time for Momma Tailorbird to move in, lay her eggs and incubate them, while Papa goes foraging, brings back nourishing tidbits, and feeds her. A cosy picture indeed, and one that proves that whether it’s been built or stitched together, home is really where the heart is!