© 43 Days Breeding Moments in Blue-winged Pitta 2017 (Batch 2) Part 1

“I found myself in fulltime, tandem field work monitoring breeding Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccensis) when an adult bird was spotted carrying nesting material, whilst Batch 1 fledglings were being observed.

“A chronological survey with dates provided and substantiated with photographs will perhaps enable reading audience enjoy, appreciate and join Avian Writer in observing Poculars and Ravenclaw – two fledglings from Batch 2 of Blue-winged Pitta in mainland Penang, Peninsular Malaysia.

“A chronology of dates and photographs’ presentation as follows:
5July – “A male adult spotted flew in haste with nesting material a distance away (below).

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13July – “No further sightings made until today where a parenting bird was encountered and observed dangling a beakful of earthworms. Catering bird took to hiding from my view and nervously flew off. (Weak partial view attached with Plate 1). If these vermin were meant for newly fledglings, it would imply, incubation period had reduced to only eight days!

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23July – “This pair of parenting birds (above)| successfully hid from me. Their whereabouts unknown until their favourite, foraging site was eventually discovered in middle forested area of mixed secondary growths and neglected palm grove. One adult bird was profusely foraging and collecting earthworms off ground (below).

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“Soiled featherings on chest suggested active nest had to be low- perhaps on ground level (below).

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“Active nest was never discovered. Four days later, a discarded Pitta’s nest was encountered beside a trail, approximately 120m from foraging site- a probable fledged nest from Batch No 2.

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24&25 July – “Revisited next two consecutive days to favourite, foraging site yielded positive observations of parenting pair digging into heavy, littered damp grounds and rewarded with juicy earthworms (above).

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26July – “Caught up with male bird near edge of forest, farther beyond. Male bird flew to a perch and provided gender and breeding plumage presentation at its best 9above, below).

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“Preening and feather maintenance followed (below).

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“Male bird aware of my presence continued with feather maintenance undeterred until his mate flew and approached from a distance. Alarm calls rang out (below).

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“Spotted by female bird approaching with food cargo and intention to perch beside male, she made a sudden detour flight to hide.

“Unknowingly, I had walked into sensitive zone….

27July – “Walking along a forest trail, I suddenly came to halt. Something moved in the grass. A 5th week fledgling-juvenile from Batch 1 spooked and took to hiding upon my foot stepped approach. It was 0838am, 100m away on my left, a parent was spotted feeding a young fledgling on low, fallen, horizontal branch. Upon sighting me, parent made a hasty retreat flight, sent two fledglings to disperse and hid amongst ground cover of grass and fallen foliages.

“One needs to be lucky to chance sighting of fledglings at early stage. If left undetected or undisturbed, chances of follow-up observing fledglings and parental support in same location and nearby improved substantially. For easy reference and gauging age of fledglings and its progressive plumage changes, I have sectioned observations into weekly basis.

27 July-2Aug. (1st week)
27July – “The family regrouped and found sanctuary under shady canopy of overgrowth, low bush trees. (Canopy pit stop) I suspect the two fledglings to be in second day old by intensity of its orangey bill tips. Moreover, parenting birds had in the past generally preferred fledging their young about noon time after the morning feeds.

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“Chick 1 recognised by roundish shaped post ocular ring on right eye. I name this chick- Poculars (above).

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“Also to be noted, post ocular ring left eye of Poculars differs (above).

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“It was also observed Poculars wasted no time to forage small pickings from ground (above).

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28July – “Within area of canopy pit stop, parents continued to provide complementary feeds to young fledgling as one hungry seen with gape wide opened (above).

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“More opportunities were had observing Poculars learning to forage by leaf turning and finding what was edible or not (above).

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“t was also another opportunity to view close-ups of Poculars and to appreciate the different shapes of whitish bare skin behind eyes- post-ocular ring (above, below).

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“It was new adventure for Poculars until…….

“Part 2 coming up to showcase sibling- Ravenclaw.”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
19th November 2017

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

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