Ploceus philippinus, Lin.
694. :- P. baya, Blyth. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 343 ; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 495 ; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 415 ; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 180 ; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 128.
THE COMMON WEAVER-BIRD.
Length, 6; expanse, 9.5 ; wing, 2.8 ; tail, 1.9 ; tarsus, 0.8; bill affront, 0.6.
Bill from pale horny-brown to black; irides dusky-brown; legs brownish-fleshy.
Old males, in breeding plumage, have the crown of the head bright yellow, the rest of the upper plumage with the wings and tail dull brown, edged with pale fulvous-brown, some of the feathers in the middle of the back edged yellow; rump and upper tail-coverts pale rufous-brown ; primaries with a narrow edging of pale-yellow; lores, ear-coverts, chin and throat, blackish-brown ; breast bright yellow; belly and lower tail-coverts dull white; the flanks, under wing-coverts, and thigh-coverts, pale rusty or buff.
Young males, in the breeding plumage, have the breast pale rusty instead of yellow, and the yellow edging of the inter-scapulars is wanting.
The females and males in winter dress totally want the yellow head, the crown being brown with dark streaks, have pale-rufous supercilia, and the chin and throat are whitish.
The Common Weaver-Bird is generally distributed throughout our limits, but is more abundant in well-wooded districts. It is a permanent resident, breeding towards the end of the rains.
The nest, retort-shaped, is a marvel of skill and ingenuity ; it is composed of strips torn from broad-leaved grasses, which are obtained in the following manner ; the bird first notches a blade of grass to the required depth, and then after making a similar nip higher up, catches the grass firmly at the lower notch and flies off", taking the strip with it. In Bombay, the nests are generally suspended from the tips of acacia trees, often overhanging a river, tank, or well.
I have never seen a nest composed of any other material than grass, but Jerdon speaks of strips of plantain leaves and strips torn from leaves of cocoanut and date palms being used. After the eggs are laid, and the female has commenced to sit, the male often continues to prolong the tubular entrance, and I have seen nests, having it at least eighteen inches in length. I cannot understand how Jerdon and Hume conclude that two is the normal number of eggs, as I have examined some scores of nests and have never found less than four incubated eggs, and have frequently found five or six. The eggs vary both in size and shape, but are typically longish ovals, pointed at one end, and are dead glossless white in color ; they average about 0.82 inches in length by 0.59 in breadth.