Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Nests in the Garden

A crow nestling has emerged in the crow's nest that I'd written about in my earlier post. There were three eggs but only one baby crow made it into the world.
Crow Nestling: Nearly 20 Days Old
This is one spunky little chick that's always demanding food and attention from its parents. Actually it needn't bother. Both its parents are very indulgent and are forever fussing over their only baby. Tasty morsels are brought to it all day. Often, some of it is deposited on our bathroom windowsill. The other day, we had a large chicken foot placed on our windowsill. The hideous image of the severed foot completely freaked me out. But I imagine it was a treat for our baby crow.
Screaming for its Food: Like all Babies, Bird or Human

Another bird's nest that came to my notice is an exquisite tailorbird's nest. Abandoned by the birds, I was free to examine it from all angles. The nest is most impressive. Two large leaves have been delicately sewn together with plant fibre. 
Abandoned Tailorbird's Nest
Underside: Sewn together with Plant Fibre
The inside is lined with soft material, specially beak-picked by the parents. The tailorbird is a tiny bird, with a high-pitched chwee chwee call. Always flitting from branch to branch, it hardly ever stays still. And though I spot it ever so often, I've never been able to capture this bird with my lens. At least now I have shots of its workmanship.

Inside the Nest: Warm and Cosy
There's one more nest in the garden, that deserves mention. A hornets' nest. Though beautiful, this nest mostly evokes dread in me.  Here's a zoomed in picture of the nest, courtesy of my neighbour. The nest being on the top (fourth) floor of our building, my simple, point and shoot camera could not measure up to the task.
Hornets' Nest: Made of Chewed Plant Fibre and Wasps' Saliva
After a lot of research on the Internet, I've come to believe that this is the Greater Banded Hornet or the Vespa Tropica. Please correct me, if I am wrong. 
Greater Banded Hornet / Vespa Tropic: A Dead One
The sting of this wasp is rather painful. We know this for a fact as we've recently had two victims. While a bee stings once, a wasp can sting repeatedly and without any apparent provocation. What is more worrying is that a small percentage of people are allergic to the stings and if stung, can go into anaphylactic shock, which is potentially fatal.

In cooler climes, most wasps die in winter. But the so called winter in Chennai may simply go unnoticed by the wasps.  While I find the presence of the hornet's nest threatening, (especially on hot days), and am even contemplating its elimination, I'm also hoping I don't have to meddle with nature. Would the wasps do me a favour and relocate some place else. Or is this wishful thinking?


  1. The hornets' nest is really beautiful, despite the threat it poses. Sometimes wasps build a nest in my house. They chew bits of wood from my garden shed into a paste to use as their building-material!
    I'm not so keen on the crows. The whole crow family seem to me to be noisy and aggressive birds. We are particularly bothered by magpies, which are the worst of the lot.

  2. We had a huge hornet nest in our apartment and the it was sprayed with some deadly chemical and all the poor wasps died. I dont know wheter it was the right thing to do.

  3. vasanti said;

    Nice photos of the tailor bird's nest. And the hornets' nest looks beautiful. If only its inmates didn't sting!

  4. glad you made it to nizhal's walk. i look forward to reading about future walks on your blog :)

  5. btw nizhal has a facebook presence and a google groups you can subscribe to, depending on which way you prefer to stay updated of their events.

  6. The tailorbird's nest was quite interesting. I don't like hornets but their nests are unique.

  7. We have a few more nests of unidentified inhabitants in the tree beyond our campus, behind our balcony area.... if you can identify them, it would be great!

  8. Nivedita, you must show me the nests some time.