Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus spadiceus Nesting in Bird’s Nest Fern Asplenium nidus
“As there are not many bushes in my condo where Red Junglefowls may nest without being disturbed by men or cats, I have always suspected that they may use Bird’s Nest Fern high up in trees for nesting. My hunch was proven right on 7th July 2013 when I saw a junglefowl hen moving in the Bird’s Nest Fern about 15 feet above ground in an Angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus). This evidence was supported further the next day when the hen was seen hastily flying away from the nest on hearing the alarm call of Lao Da – the dominant male – behind me.
“The edited video, where a chick hidden somewhere below the tree is heard calling at the beginning, can be viewed above.
“From my record of notes, images, videos and taking into account the time needed for laying/brooding of eggs, this hen is identified as Sri which was last seen in early June (see Red Junglefowl Roundup Part I LINK. Apparently this brood was a failure. While the cleaning supervisor who loves animals including birds saw it with 4 chicks, by the time I saw her on 13th July, there was only one left. The chick was seen again on 19th July limping. Subsequently both went missing. The limping chick has probably died. Sri reappeared on 25th August with 4 chicks (above). As at today, 3 of the chicks are surviving.
Do Red Junglefowl hens take care of chicks not of their own?
“Before I share my observation, first some background information.
“Madu went into reproduction mode again around the middle of July, while Cinta had her chicks mentioned in Part I reduced to 3 from 4 and went into the same mode again around 1st week of July (see Red Junglefowl Roundup Part I HERE).
“On 3rd August one of the hens appeared with 3 chicks, and on the next day the other hen appeared with 5 chicks. By 6th August the total number of chicks between them were down to 5. I had previously identified Madu and Cinta by the number and colours of the older chicks each of them had. When they are together without the old chicks now on their own, I am unable to distinguish them since both look alike.
“The video above, recorded on 6th August, showed one hen initially with all the 5 chicks feeding together. Soon the other hen came near (seen at top right corner of screen) and the former adopted a submissive posture by raising her feathers. The dominant hen then charged at her and she ran away. Following this the 5 chicks gathered around the dominant hen and continued feeding. From this episode which was repeatedly seen, it would appear that junglefowl hens do accept chicks not of their own.
“When the chicks were 4 to 5 weeks old, one of the hens left the group in early September, probably in reproduction mode again.
Current Population of Red Junglefowl In My Condo
“In addition to changes as elaborated above and in Part III, the remaining hen to be dealt with, Manis, had her earlier brood of 3 as mentioned in Part I reduced to 2. She remained with the chicks until the 1st week of August when they were about 10 weeks old. Manis was seen again with a new brood of 3 chicks on 2nd September. Unfortunately, she disappeared with the 3 chicks a few days later. Perhaps the 3 chicks had died and the mother hen is now in reproduction mode again.
“There is also a young male adult (above) with a not-so-prominent white patch that appeared in mid-August.
“Add up all the numbers and we have 37 in my condo now! That’s an increase of 15 in 3 months since my last report Part I.
“I had previously noted that a Red Junglefowl hen left her chick when it was about 6 weeks LINK. With more knowledge gathered from watching Putri Hitam (see Part III) and Manis, it is now known that the period can range from 4 to 10 weeks.”
Sun Chong Hong
16th September 2013