The air was silent for what seemed like the longest of time. Coming from Australia, no matter how deep in the city you live, you are woken by a morning chorus. A cacophony of wild birds calling at the light of day. Apparently there is much to discuss after the shenanigans of the night before. But here, the silence was heavy, thick, unsettling. Our compound in the desert was very new. Trees were small and young, and there was still much construction as the compound homes were being built. This was 10 years ago, in Saudi Arabia. Now, KAUST is a lush, tropical paradise bursting with palm trees, exotic flowers and greenery, establishing itself as a major stopover for migratory birds, and a new estate for many native birds.
I still remember the first time i saw a tree filled with large teardrops hanging from a tree. Drawing from previous experience, I had thought they were a small colony of bats roosting for the day light hours. And then, a flash of yellow streaked past and out of sight into one of the teardrops. Then another, and another, revealing teardrop nests hanging from thin branches that sway in the breeze.
Once a rare sighting, the Ruppell's Weaver bird has become a staple in the lives of our beachside/desert community. With big personalities and a similar sound to a humming bird, and polystyrene rubbing together. An unusual squeak. They love to take new seedlings that are growing in your vegetable gardens to weave their nests, and they especially enjoyed all of my sunflower seedlings too! I had none left after my first attempt to grow them, and now I protect them with an up-turned paper cup with the bottom cut off placed over the seedling.
If you love weaver birds, you can see my Weaver Bird artwork here.
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