The Munias have been nesting in our apartment for a couple of years and have been a great source of joy. Their nest is built between a glass window and a screen and is entirely outside our house. Everyone (including birds of prey) can see the nest but no one can get to it except us and the munias. Hence every year before the munias decide to nest in our apartment, they fly all around it to make sure that we are still the residents. The birds need to feel safe. For tiny birds like the munias, security is of the utmost concern. It is not enough that the birds choose their human well. Pigeons who have been nesting among some plants in our apartment have lost their young to pariah kites time and again. The munias, on the other hand, have managed to produce offsprings in the last two seasons.
Two storied nest
Adult spotted Munia moving in the narrow space
Munias renewing a used nest with new grass
Nest building is a slow process. The munias carry long strands of grass all the way up to the thirteenth floor. They work hard at it. We were amused to see the munias build two storied nests. It may take almost six months or more for a munia to build and then decide to breed in it. The munias have built a couple of other nests in our apartment but only one has been successful so far. The same nest was reused twice to successfully breed new munias. The other nests were abandoned after they were built. For some reason, after all the hard work, the munias did not like the nest enough to breed in it. Birds live precarious lives and good nesting sites are difficult to find. A munia’s nest means that the window needs to be left undisturbed for a couple of months. But since the nests only adds to the beauty of the view, we have encouraged them.
Eggs in batches of five or seven are laid. Once they are hatched, the nestlings become adults in about two weeks. After the babies arrive, plenty of other munias come to visit. Munias are surely social birds. I know this because I have had to help visiting munias, a couple of times, to find their way out of our apartment. Even after the nestlings learn to fly, they still come back a few more nights to the nest. They use the nest until they are really ready to face the world.
A newly born Munia baby
New born Munia babies huddled together in their nest
Growing Munia opening its mouth expecting food
Munia baby peeping out of the nest
Young Munia without the spots
Munias are shy birds. Initially they would fly away as soon as they would see me. This year, they stayed put in their nests unless I went really close. To never touch the nest or the nestlings has been my policy. Wild birds do not like human touch and may even abandon the nestlings. I try to stay as far away as possible. Though when the parents are not around, I take plenty of pictures of the nestlings. Initially, the nestlings do not understand danger and will open their mouths wide expecting food when they see me. Later, as they grow up, they kind of shrink away, in my presence.
I have never liked the idea of pet birds or birds in cages. But I love the fact that the birds have come on their own to nest in my house, in my full view, and made me a part of this important phase in their lives. We have had a successful trip so far. My only concern is that every year a couple of eggs go bad. May be the munias will come again next year. And this time, all the eggs will hatch. You never can tell.