© A Rendezvous With Grey Treepies in Taiwan. Part 1

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“If the most common bird seen in Malaysia is Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier), then most popular Taiwan bird has to be the Grey Treepie (Dendrocitta formosae formosae) (below).

“Mind you readers, not only is this noisy, 36-40cm bird commonly seen in parks, gardens and other lower elevations. It carries the distinctive status of a sub-endemic species ‘formosae’ amongst its seven other first cousins – assimilis, sinica, himalayana, occidentalis, sarkari, sapiens and insulae; and spreading from sub-continent India, E. Pakistan, Nepal, East to SE China and SEA regions especially Tonkin area of Vietnam.

“Plumage wise, the black facial mask, the density of brown on their mantle and scapulars and grey areas over upper tail coverts vary slightly in their respective regions of residence. They can be best appreciated by looking at the different images posted by contributors at Oriental Bird Images (OBI).

“A robust bird indeed belonging to the Corvinae family- the birds I had observed during my visit were mostly gregarious, seen dashing and kept disappearing into under low tree canopies.

“I just couldn’t miss seeing these creatures identified by it’s white primary base, winged patch as they were noisy, small flocks making funny, big noises – ‘kokli-ka-ka, ko kiki’.

“Observing these birds and entering into their world of living must simply be not dull. When not foraging, these sociable birds appeared quite fond of cable perch- in pairs or small groups of about 3-4 birds.

“One juvenile bird in a village was observed swaying in the wind, fanning out its tail feathers like an opened parasol (above).

“Another was performing antics such as this juvenile- doing an acrobatic, swinging stunt on a flexible bamboo cane (above).

“Their foraging food habits are typical of sorts and scavenging behaviours left much to be desired.

“Video clip extracts show formosae stripping lichens off garden tree branches in Taipei (above, below).

“With strong, chunky, black bills these nibbling birds leave scarred pock marks on tree branches. Park gardeners having surrendered to their mischievous ways, accept these nibblers dutifully as long stay friends of the gardens (below).

“Grey Treepies were often seen foraging in pairs. One bird was observed chewing a foliage (below)…

“…Partner having plucked leaf bunch with unripe berries attached, held it down with claws, ate berry (below)…

“…and later shared the bunch (below).

“Both swiped and cleaned their bills before flight (below).

“Join me next to read an interesting Part 2, witty behaviour of a Grey Treepie.”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
18th September 2015

Copyright article and all copy images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

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