The Weaver Bird (Burung Tempua)

The Weaver bird, which makes the long hanging bottle -shaped nests occasionally seen hanging from the branches of a low tree, is said to use a golden needle in the work ; and it is affirmed that if the nest is carefully picked to pieces, without breaking any part of it, the needle will be found ; but if it is pulled ruthlessly apart, or if even a single piece of the grass of which it is made is broken in unravelling it, the golden needle will  disappear. The makers of these curious and beautiful nests are said to always choose trees that are infested with red ants or wasps, or which grow in impassable swamps.

The Weaver-bird (Ploceus Baya, Blyth) is called Burong Tempua. It is said to use only the long jungle grass called lalang for making its nest, which latter is called buah rabun, and is used by the Malays for polishing sheaths and scabbards. When an infant keeps crying, one of the parents takes the weaver- bird’s nest, reduces it to ashes, and fumigates the child by thrice moving it round in a circle over the smoke. Whilst doing so, the parent either stands up with the right toe resting upon the toe of the left foot, or else squats upon the left heel, bending the right knee, and saying, ‘ As the weaver-bird’s young in its nest, so rest and weep not ‘ (Bagaimana anak tempua dalam sarang-nya, begitu-lah kau diam jangan menangis).

Besides the ordinary bottleshaped nest, the weaver-birds also occasionally make a hood-shaped, or rather a helmet-shaped nest, which is alleged by the Malays to be the male bird’s  swing (buaian). This ‘ swing  resembles the upper half of an ordinary bottle-shaped nest, with a perch across it, which latter is also woven of grass. On the walls of the swing, just over each end of the perch, is a small daub of clay. The Malays allege that the male bird swings in it while the hen bird is sitting, and that the young too ‘take the air’ in it as soon as they are able to fly so far. Into the two daubs of mud over the perch the male bird (say the Malays) sticks fire -flies to give itself light at night.


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