“Observing courtship sharing on ground platter, female active role in ground nest excavation and inspection role of the male were new insights in getting to know more about breeding life of Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccensis).
“Inching into their private world had only been possible by a co-operative pair- Ticky and Tippy at Sungai Dua Forest Reserve (SDFR) Province Wellesley, Peninsular Malaysia. I would of course delight the opportunity one day to observe more courtship feeding behaviours with photographic images to substantiate similar incidents or something extraordinary.
“Nesting unfortunately and not surprisingly failed this season. A mid-morning 2nd June 2014 revisit showed disappointing results. During my absence, eggs were laid, nest raided and clutch of four eggs predated at the nesting site: – all happened (below left).
“On closer examination, twigs were broken at front entrance to chamber with scattered egg shells nearby (above right). ‘Door curtain’ of branch foliages had gone missing.
“A comparison image is shown (above).
“A close-up view showed four freshly broken egg shells –one with remnant egg yoke – suggesting predation took place overnight or early morning of 2nd June.
“Eggs were systematically removed and each feasted on in a single visit at entrance of nest chamber (below left).
“By calculation, it had taken the pair about eight days in nest preparation followed by a day of rest.
“Egg laying would likely be on 31st May and/or 1st June, followed by predation same night or early morning of 2nd June.
“It appeared pitta pair had no chance of time to even incubate their investments -a disaster that came sooner than I expected.
“The depth of the chamber was measured with broken twig to be approximately 17cm – just short of 7inches (above right).
“Being such resilient creatures of the wild, female Tippy wasted no time but was observed to re-gather nesting material at 12:28 hrs – same day the nest found predated (below left). Subsequently, she flew deeper into the forest.
“In the next six weeks, pitta pair continued to be seen foraging quietly and independently (above right).
“Ticky, the male was observed to sun bathe in crouched position with wings spread wide and preened thoroughly in between sunbathing. Wild boar tick had also left him.
“My presence undeterred, I had to back away for these two images (above).
“Gradually, Ticky and Tippy’s presence at the Forest Reserve faded to oblivion with no brood to show.
“A short and familiar call was last heard on 16th July 2014. It sounded like a farewell note to me…. just me alone at the car park.
“Perhaps it was from Ticky saying, “Till we meet again my friend!”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
6th September 2014
Copyright article and all copy images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund