Mugimaki Flycatcher – feeding in seeding bamboo

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“I spent my weekend with a wonderful ‘flock’ of 8-10 Mugimaki Flycatchers (Ficedula mugimaki) (above, below). I am certain of two adult males, two adult females, two 1st winter males and two other very pale 1st winter birds.

“Feeding was partially competitive which makes me suspect at least 2 family units – at times an adult female would chase some birds away but not others.

“Feeding was of interest to me as it took place exclusively in the huge thicket of bamboo that was seeding. I was puzzled as to what they were feeding on. Feeding details after watching for 4.5 hours over two days and with more than 100 feeding episodes observed:

1. There was almost no aerial sallies for flying insects (I saw 2 true aerial sallies where they caught flying insects).
2. From a perch on the bamboo seed inflorescence they would dash to another site, puck some item off the seeding bamboo and return to a new site. This made imaging difficult to assist in identification of food item (both still and video). I have numerous blur images of feeding and videos were too far (wide view to capture action) to be of use.
3. Some of the birds, especially the very pale 1st winter ‘juveniles’ would, on occasion, land on an inflorescence and consume some item directly. I assumed they were not as good at the ‘snatch-and-grab’ of the older birds.
4. I considered that they were feeding on the bamboo seeds. Mugimaki Flycatchers usually take invertebrate prey by aerial sallies for flying insects but are also know to pick food items off vegetation. They are recognised to feed on seeds and fruit; I have seen birds feed on the Macaranga bancana and other fruit. But the bamboo seeds seem too large and firm to consume immediately on plucking from the inflorescence. Munias need to crush them before consuming. I did not see any remnants in the beaks when landing at next perch; the prey was consumed immediately.
5. I examined the bamboo seeds up close for any non-flying insects but could not see any.

“My opinion is some tiny non-flying insect in large quantity, but need to keep in view that they can actually feed on the bamboo seeds.

“The vast majority style feeding of the bamboo seeds – ‘snatch-and-grab’ (above). It requires some ability to flutter momentarily in front of a bamboo seed inflorescence to snatch food. Very fast action, tough to image and many are blurs.

“Much less common (< 3%) are where some birds actually land on the bamboo to get food (above). Never saw adult birds do this. “Note that there were other birds feeding at the same bamboo thicket. a. Noted to feed on the Bamboo seeds: 1. Pin-tailed Parrotfinch (Erythrura prasina prasina) 2. White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata subsquamicollis) b. Picking items off the bamboo seeds: 1. Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)
2. Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius maculicollis)
3. Pin-striped Tit Babbler (Macronus gularis)
4. Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) – briefly seen once

c. Present at site but food source uncertain:
1. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) – seen on ground under the bamboo thicket
2. Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus)

“It was joy to see these birds up close and as they become comfortable with me I managed to watch at 4-5 meters.

“In this series of post are some images of adult males.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
28-29th November 2015

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: A ‘damaged’ trail along primary jungle

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