Skill of the Weaver Bird
I have watched the Bayas (Weaver Birds) building nests. They find strong marsh grass to make unbreakable ties on branches extending over a pond or an old well for safety from intruders from below. Then they build the nest by intricately weaving strand after strand of ordinary grass. Some nests are short, some up to two feet long. They have two chambers; one for the parents, the other for the chicks. The entrance is on a side of the bottom rim. The parents’ room is next to the entrance and the safer one in the back is for the eggs and later hatchlings. The nest hanging from the branch is a true piece of art and an architectural feat.
I often go to watch the Bayas at work sitting quietly some distance away for hours. In the beginning the birds were shy or suspicious. They used to freeze for a few minutes on noticing me. But now they trust me and carry on just after a quick nod of acknowledgement. I can go much nearer and remain in full view without disturbing them. Their trust melts my heart and I feel blessed.
After many visits, one day, I felt I had friendly attention of one Baya. I asked, “Excuse me friend, may I ask you who taught you to build such a beautiful nest?”
The Baya smiled, “Nature, of course, who else? She is the mother and teacher of all of us, as you surely know!”
“That I know,” I said, but “I am trying to learn to draw and cannot manage to do even simple stick figures. I need a human teacher to show me how.”
“Of course you need a teacher to learn such a useless thing as drawing stick figures. But you didn’t need a teacher how to suck milk from your mother’s breast. Who taught you that? The reason nature taught you to suckle is that your survival depended on it.”
“Yes, you are right. I suppose I was born with the skill to suck. It was imprinted on my genes because my survival depended on it.”
“And who taught you to cry, to smile, to gurgle, to hold, to recognize and trust your mother, to digest food, to eliminate body wastes. Without these abilities you would have died as a baby.”
“I suppose Mother Nature built these skills into me, and I was born with them. There was no need to learn them.”
“Right,” said the Baya. “I too, was born with the skill to build a nest. Perhaps millions of years ago my ancestors acquired this skill by trial and error. It had such great survival value for our species that it became firmly imprinted in our genes as an instinct. Since then we have been building nests. I don’t have to teach my chicks. When they grow up, become pregnant, or if they are males and realize they have a father’s role ahead of them, the instinct will unfailingly awaken. If, however, for some reason they lose the nest building instinct, or the will to build proper nests at the right time, they will die. You see, we are life, manifest in our bodies. Life has both wisdom and power. It knows how to survive. In fact if we interfere too much, we hinder nature’s work.”
“Thank you brother Baya,” I said. “Your words are full of wisdom. We humans need your wisdom more than all other animals, for we are taught to spurn certain useful instincts and drilled to modify even our good instincts often in the name of etiquette.”
April 30, 2005