© Blue-winged Pitta’s Confrontation with Resident Drongo

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“Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccensis) continue to visit their favourite, breeding grounds annually at a popular bird location on mainland Penang, Peninsular Malaysia.

“Birders and photographers of sorts too followed to chance good views of these breeding birds. Some sat waited and waited, some set up props for bird modelling photography, many came prepared with treats and baits of mealworms and many more armed with bird recall tape recordings and blasting at every opportunity their fingers touched press buttons. It appeared the gadget was the only game toy in town that seemed the norm in-thing to practice!

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“While hungry birds could not resist showing and picking up scattered mealworms, more careful and discreet birds would wait until all dust settled, felt no threat before appearing for the easy pickings (above).

“Pitta’s nest predation rate is high in this location also due to abundance of feral cat population, monitor lizards and Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) that live within the vicinity (below).

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“The chances of successful nesting probably be better if parenting Blue-winged Pittas choose well to build their nests deep inside forests where human accessibility is difficult (below).

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“I showed up one day in late May to do an evaluation check on surroundings and bird welfare. A parenting Blue-winged Pitta was out in the open and wasted no time collecting mealworms, scattered earlier by visitors (below).

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“Illicit collector was not alone but spotted by an equally keen eyed and common resident of the forest-Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) (below).

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“Ah…ha! Collecting on the cheap, erh?” scrutinized the Drongo.

“EazyPZ – the probable male Pitta looked up and balked.

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“’Do you mind? Got hungry chicks to feed. Just go away! EazyPZ with mealworms pinched tightly to its bill, wasted no time to show territorial displeasure. The ground dweller raised its pair of spreaded wings to ward off the inquisitive intruder and dashed a surprising sprint at the Drongo.

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Spooked, the latter jumped up and eventually cleared off (above, below).

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“Here is the sprinting sequence captured from videography (below).

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“Having regained its composure, the Blue-winged Pitta eventually took flight with the wriggly meal worms to the awaiting young (below).

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“2017 is another personal milestone achievement in observing Blue-winged Pitta in P. Malaysia, as the time finally came to bear witness of another piece of missing jigsaw, in the life of these elusive birds, little known nor documented before.

“Join me soon for this rare chronological event…”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang Malaysia
18th October 2017

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

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