More on the Zanzibar Bishops
Since I announced the successful hatching of the blue eggs, I wanted to share more about the details of their “habitat.”
Janine, the hen, and her mate , Helios, had been free-flying in an extra bedroom furnished with a faux ficus tree for the past couple of months. They are known to be polygamous, but I had reason to suspect that a full harem was not requisite.
This is Helios, looking like a very papal bishop indeed.
When I was still living in the apartment, Helios and Janine were flee-flying, when I noticed the first egg. I mentioned before that the egg-laying seemed to correspond with my observation that Janine was feeding on the Zupreem AvianMaintenance™ Cockatiel pellets that I was intended for the Bulbuls. The first egg was a big surprise to me! I had no idea that any of the species in my flock were capable of producing such sprightly colored gems. I doubted that any of the eggs would be fertile, considering that Janine and Helios rarely interacted under my observation.
At some point, I had hung a quarter-spherical basket to dry on a door stopper that was positioned at a top corner the front door. Janine took immediate interest in it, though it seemed an unreliable nest site (and it was not intended for her at all). When I left the apartment or came home, not every time, but most times, she fled the nest as I entered or exited through the front door. She always returned faithfully, and she managed to hatch a chick, nevertheless, proving that Janine and Helios did have a furtive physical relationship after all. Unfortunately, the chick did not survive.
This lone chick did not make it. The chick lived not more than a few days after which I found the body of the chick cast out of the nest, 19 January 2009.
After that episode, I removed the nest basket, for Janine’s own good. She was obviously melanistic after her spell of dedicated egg-laying. I moved out of the apartment, and while I was settling in the new place, Janine and Helios were caged with some Zebra and Bengalese Finches for some time. When I noticed that Janine’s plumage had been restored, I decided to turn them lose in the spare bedroom (a.k.a. the “bird room”). Just in case, I hung a bamboo nest in the faux ficus tree, and I scattered some dried grass and coconut fibers around the room. I was amazed at how quickly they took advantage of these offerings.
Within a week, I noticed two little blue eggs in this nest. As it turns out, that first clutch was probably not fertilized.
So you may be wondering, why would I offer the master weaver a pre-woven nest? Euplectes of Euplectes nigroventris is derived from Greek, meaning well-plaited. In the apartment, Helios proved adept at weaving, but he was rather too much of a dissatisfied perfectionist. He would weave a fine nest, and Janine would settle in and oviposit a vibrant blue egg. While Janine seemed to accept the accommodations, Helios was unwilling to commit. He would disassemble the nest and start building at another site with the same material. And Janine was forced to abandon her little blue investment. I suspect that Bulbulicious also assisted and perhaps motivated the project of disassembly.
This time, I noticed that some unfinished weaving projects appeared and disappeared while Janine laid two more eggs and incubated them dutifully. She would leave the nest only when I approached too closely during the daily chore of changing water dishes and filling seed cups.
Her patience and dedication were not in vain.
All feeding responsibilities fell on Janine, 6 September 2009.
When not begging for the meal, fledglings always seem to lack enthusiasm, as if bodily functions are just too energetically demanding for them to afford any kind of lust for life, 7 September 2009.
The elder (by a couple of days) chick was looking so independent after only 3 days ex nido, 7 September 2009.