Feeding Behaviours: Breeding Pittas
“My follow-up observations at Itam Dalam Forest Reserve (IDFR) concluded those regular sightings of Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) pair were no other than Pitta2 and Pitta3.
“Sometimes the pair foraged together. At other times, they fed independently but within ear-shot of each other.
Identification was made easier by a boar tick studded behind male Pitta2’s left eye. I name Pitta2 ‘Ticky’ (above left). Female Pitta3 protruding white primary feathers earned her name –‘Tippy’ (above right).
“Ticky and Tippy were first spotted at mid-morning, 21stMay foraging alongside a narrow, tarred road entrance to the Reserve.
Better views were had as they continued to forage in selective spots, circumventing edge of forest’s car park (above).
“By noon, discerning readers would have also noticed a difference on Tippy’s chest and upper belly. Soiled stains were showing and they became heavier on 22nd May (left).
“Here are two images for comparison (below).
“It looked like Tippy… had been busy.
“While pitta pair showed good prospect of being into breeding mode, an unusual observation had me thinking of pitta’s courtship/breeding behaviour. Had I witnessed correctly, they looked rather unromantically tardy and perhaps…..behaved presumptuously.
“Several incidents occurred suggesting such behaviours.
“Here are as follows:
1). Pitta pair was foraging independently under bamboo grove. Tippy was observed to have found vermin and gulped down in haste. Witnessed by Ticky, he raced towards her with outstretched wings and bullied her to take flight. Here are 4 supported extracted video images in a frame (below).
“2). Tippy appeared to be the partner with more luck finding huge earthworms. Ticky suddenly flew in, pushed Tippy aside, took over the role of immobilizing the struggling vermin. Tippy hastily hopped towards Ticky protectively to shield her partner while he ate or perhaps…she was expecting a share but saw none.
“Instead, Tippy witnessed helplessly her partner swallowed the vermin whole. Subsequently, Tippy hopped away, returned to confront Ticky indirectly or checking on her partner before hopping away in disgust or…… with pride her way of showing a substantial gift offering respectively?
“A montage of 10 images extracted from video is shown here with Ticky swipe-cleaning his bill on ground after Tippy took her leave (above).
“3). A consolation thought from Ticky. He made his small contribution observed in another post-honeymoon courtship feeding opportunity as seen here on a montage of 12 video extracted images (above).
“While his gift offering of a tiny morsel was all the luck he had to garner and offer or willing to offer, nevertheless…. these images show, male Pitta do reciprocate in partnership offerings but only from ground platter without bill to bill contact.
“Confirmation finally came with the ground dwelling pair observed collecting nesting materials (left).
“It appeared Ticky and Tippy had successfully copulated. They had paired off to forage vigorously in preparation for the next phase of breeding-Nesting.
“Do join Avian Writer in Part5 to help search and find nesting hide-out of Ticky and Tippy, our endearing Blue-winged Pittas.”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
20th August 201
Copyright article and all copies images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund