Just outside Dwarka Sector 10 Metro station, on a small patch of greenery, visitors are greeted by the sight of over 50 nests of the baya weaver bird hanging from branches of babool trees.
Environmentalists are ecstatic about these signature nests in a heavily concretised corner of the Capital and say there is a need to raise awareness about the baya weaver to save similar havens across the city.
Activist Diwan Singh, who is part of the Dwarka Water Bodies Committee, said every year since 2010 the baya weavers have been coming to the area — spread over about one acre — during breeding season.
“The male baya weaves a nest with super craftsmanship to secure it from predators, and water with sufficient heat shield. The female inspects the nest and if it finds it to be good enough, it accepts the advances of the male bird. These birds, whose original habitat is Delhi, are the last of their species in the city. The habitat of these marvellous architect birds needs to be preserved,” Singh said.
It remains a mystery as to why and how these birds select this locale for nesting, he says. “Such a busy neighbourhood with human and vehicular disturbance is the most unlikely choice for any bird to breed. But these birds seem to have trusted us unconditionally. We have a moral duty to match up to the trust they have shown in us. And fight for whatever little habitat is left,” the environment activist said.
Locals say the number of birds has gone down over the years. A dozen trees are left on the stretch which earlier had over 50 full-grown babools. In a similar proportion, the number of nests has shrunk from 200 in the past to about 50.
Ecologist CR Babu of the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, who assists the Delhi Development Authority in biodiversity projects, says wetland conservation needs to be done to provide habitat to these birds.
“Around 692 wetlands were identified in Delhi. However, over 95% of these have dried up. The baya weaver nests on trees like desi babool and Indian date palm. These are found near water bodies, marshlands, rivers and canals. To sustain these birds, you have to preserve these water bodies,” Babu said.