Thursday, December 4, 2008
Referring to the field guide , i found out that it was called "Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker" or "Picus Chlorophus Vieillot".And not to forget the fact that it has been 6-7 years since i have been observing birds in and around my neighbourhood and this was the first time that i was seeing one ! It was perched just in front of my eyes , probably at a distance of around 3-4 feet from me , on the "Himalayan pear tree" or "Pyrus Pashia" and was constantly digging the fairly thin but robust branch.An important point here is that the branches of this tree are very hard and thats why the sound that was originating was quite loud.As soon as the beautiful woodpecker saw me , it was perturbed and traumatized and immediately made a rushing flight towards the decidious trees on the other side of the road.
It was a pleasing sight for me , in the midst of the cool breeze and the warm soothing rays of the sun , for you do not get to witness a woodpecker pecking at a branch right in front of your eyes everyday !...Hope you enjoyed it.I will be regularly updating the content of the blog as i continue to roll on with my adventures and hope to witness much more amazing things !
Monday, July 14, 2008
What he saw was some of the most beautiful local birds, pheasants mainly. But they were not in their natural habitat. Rather, they were prominently displayed in the front of the many shops along the main road (left). These shops were selling exotic meat for tourists, mainly local wildlife.
The most prominent birds displayed appeared to be the Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus), also called Chinese Pheasant (below). These were hung with their full colourful plumage and long tail feathers dangling. The spectacularly beautiful male pheasant has a golden crest and rump, bright red body and exceedingly long and pointed tail feathers.
Also seen was the Lady Amherst’s Pheasant (C. amherstiae).These birds come from the forests of the mountainous areas of western China.
This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.
All images by Roger Moo except Golden Pheasant by YC.
Source : BESG
Friday, July 11, 2008
In our garden at RMV Extn (Dollars' Colony) in North Bangalore, Easter Lilies had announced the arrival of Easter season much in advance (about 10 days) by most wonderful / colourful flowers."
Ultimately, since yesterday (10 April i.e. almost after 19 days!)) we noticed different activity and behaviour of the female. It seems that the eggs are hatched and the female has started feeding the chicks. However, this feeding behaviour is quite peculiar. She does not seem to bring anything apparent in her beak. She perches over the entrance and feeds the chicks with something unnoticed. Could it be nectar? Possible, because she visits various nectar-flowers in our garden and then gets back to the nest. We have not seen her bringing any insects. Or is it that she swallows and the regurgates the same to the chicks? We don't know and it is difficult to observe since one cannot see inside of the nest. The female remains perched at the entrance for quite sometime, looking all around and not bothered of anyone's presence.
The other peculiar observation is that the male is not involved in any of the 'bringing up' activities until now! He occassionally just hangs around, mainly in the mornings. Does he have another female nesting somewhere else? Interesting to know!
Our Sandal tree where the nest is located is fruting profusely and is being visited by many other birds. A few koels (males and females) have almost adopted the tree. We keep wondering if one of the koels would attempt to parasitise this nest! Looks difficult, but koels are known to play all such gimmics while making the others to bring up their offsprings.
Shall keep you posted about the progress.
The early morning on 2 May 2008, we heard calls of Sunbirds and I was determined to capture a few photos after it became brighter. However, when I went out with my camera at about 8.00 am, we discoverd that the nest was empty! The chick had embarked on her first flight early in the morning, almost 21 days after her emergence out of the egg! (The egg was hatched on 10 April 2008). We searched for the birds all around but could not see them anywhere. I was disappointed, but happy for the success of the breeding process.
Renee had kept regular track and her observations are as under:
1) It was labour of love for the female alone throughout, during the incubation and feeding stages. The male just appeared very few times and participated in feeding just for the sake of it. It was the female who did everything till the end - almost 'single parenting'!
2) Very rarely, small caterpillars were brought to the nest and fed to the chick. Generally the female came with food stored in her crop and then possibly regurgated the same to the chick several times. Perhaps the chick was fed with nectare also. During every feeding session, the female would spend quite sometime perched at the entrance and would feed the chick in installments. It seems that she would also spend a lot of time cleaning the nest.
3) The growth of the chick appeared to be slow and steady. The calls of the chick could be heard only after about 10 days and then slowly the chick started peeping out of the entrance hole. The feathers developing on the head, curved beak and faint marks on both sides of the beak were visible then. That is the time it was discovered that there was only one chick, rather than usual two.
4) There were three episodes of thunderstorm and heavy rain during these 20 days, however the nest remained intact, though appeared so flimsy!
5) An interesting thing was noticed on 28 April morning. A pair of White-eyes visited the Sandal tree and spent sometime on the tree looking for insects. During the process, one of the birds hopped upto the Sunbird nest, explored the same all around, picked something (perhaps a spider or ant) from external surface of the nest. The chick gave a call and hid inside the nest! The Whiteeye did not peep / explore the inside of the nest. After a minute or so both the Whiteyes flew off.
6) We checked the nest closely this morning. It is amazing the way it is made by such a tiny bird. It is woven with fibres, cobwebs and covered with bark pieces, soft seeds, caterpillar excreta etc. with a cantilevered canopy protruding over the side entrance hole. The hole has smooth lining perhaps made of saliva. The most amazing is the soft and deep mattress like cusion inside, almost 5 cm thick! No wonder the chick was so comfy and safe! the nest was amazingly clean, almost sterile! No smell at all!
It was an interesting experience for us in our garden, right from the Easter upto the Labour Day. True labour of love!
Best wishes to the Sunbirds and all of you!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The barbet was first spotted in the tree, looking for fruits and possibly insects (above). Along came a small bird that Adrian thought was a juvenile sunbird, also looking for food. Then suddenly, the ’sunbird’, flew off into the bushes, followed by the barbet.
The next thing Adrian saw “…was the fluffy thing flying around, and I thought the barbet had just got a big moth. Not until I stopped shooting did I realise that the barbet was actually having the sunbird in its beak, and was shaking it around and trying to swallow it (above). "
"The barbet then went up to another tree, still trying to swallow the sunbird… Not sure what happened after.”
Well, the barbet was bashing the hapless prey against the branch it was perching on (below)
According to KC Tsang, the prey does not look like a sunbird. Its bill is not long and curved enough. It is possibly a flowerpecker, a newly fledged flowerpecker. Look at the prominent yellow oral flanges lining the bill.
Barbets have always been known to be fruit eaters. And they are always seen around fruiting fig trees. Ornithologists believe that it very seldom takes birds although Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata) has been recorded to eat birds’ eggs and nestlings as well as frogs and lizards (Short & Horne, 2002).
As far as Gold-whiskered Barbet is concerned, very little about its food other than fruits is known. Until of course, Dr. Redzlan Abdul Rahman photographed a Gold-whiskered Barbet catching and eating a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) at his backyard in Raub, Malaysia.
Now, we have another report of this same barbet eating a recently fledged flowerpecker. Yes, another new record indeed. And would you believe it, both instances have been recorded by photographers.
Barbets are very aggressive birds, always looking for a fight, especially when food is concerned. They are also aggressive when intruders approach their nesting and roosting cavities. Short & Horne (2002) report that “interspecific aggression is most evident in the breeding season, when ‘innocent’ birds of species that are not nest-hole competitors are attacked without cause.”
The bill of the barbet is stout, pointed and not flattened laterally (above). This is an adaptation for excavating nesting cavities in rotting tree trunks and branches. It is definitely not adapted for tearing flesh. Thus it has to bash the bird it catches to break it up before swallowing. Unfortunately, there has been on observation on whether it tears the prey to pieces to swallow them separately.
It is to be noted that in eating fruits, small ones are swallowed whole while larger ones are first broken up and then crushed to a pulp by the mandibles before swallowing. Even in eating large and armoured insect, they need to be bashed before swallowing. What more a bird!
Reference : Short, L. L. & Horne, J. F. M. (2002). Family Capitonidae (Barbets). Pp. 140-219 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
This post is a cooperative effort between NaturePixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience
All images by Adrian Lim.
Source : BESG
“However, on this day, I did not realise that there was a nest around the place and walked off looking for subjects to take pictures of."
"The next day I decided to go back to the same place to make further observations. I found the two birds still behaving in a similar fashion. This time I found the nest hanging from a vine and very well camouflaged. Looking into the nest I saw that it was empty, no eggs. I stood around quietly and saw that the female would look into the nest and fly off, then returned and went into the nest - I guess to try it for size. The male would hang around close by observing her every movements."
“On 2nd July I found the female bird inside the nest (right top). She stayed there for a long time before leaving to feed. I peeped into the nest and saw that there were still no eggs. During this period I found the male absent. Only the female was attending to the nest. Can it be because they are nectar feeders, they would find it very hard to feed each other? I may be wrong on this."
“Two days later (4th July) I returned and when the female left the nest, saw two purplish brown eggs (right bottom)."
“The 6th July was a very sad day as I found the nest to be missing of the eggs (below). They could have been predated by a snake as the nest had remained in very good condition. Also, as it was hanging from a vine, anything large and heavy would have torn the nest from the vine. According to a knowledgeable birder, he says that nesting success rate is only about 30 percent. I found incidences like this also happening to Yellow-Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) nests in our garden - overnight, the eggs would disappear into thin air."
“The nest is pear shaped, with an awning over the entrance to protect the female from falling rain? How is it that the male sunbirds would be able to think of this feature?”
Observations and all images by K C Tsang26th June to 20th July 2007..
NOTE: According to Cheke et al. (2001), the nest is a pear-shaped bag with an oval entrance in the top half with an eave. It is made of fine grass, fibre, kapok and hairs, all loosely woven together. There is no ‘beard’ hanging loosely below the nest as in Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) (1, 2).
Reference:Cheke, R. A., Mann, C. F. & Allen, R. (2001). Sunbirds: A guide to the sunbirds, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters and sugarbirds of the world. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Source : BESG
Sunday, July 6, 2008
This summer season promised a lot as several birds were busy building their nests in my garden but unfortunately by the end of June , chicks fledged out only from 3 of the 11 nests.The main reasons of failed nesting were the predators which seemed to be plentiful in my locality.From predator birds such as the Crows and the Koels to the mighty small animals such as the Mongoose and the Squirrel , everyone played a part in terrifying the nesting birds by regularly raided their nests and scourging their young. A Spotted Dove pair had built its second nest ,in a period of 30 days , after its previous one was raided by a Crow . Both the nests were built on the same Bougainvillea shrub :-
The 1st Nesting attempt :-
In Mid-april , after 4-5 days of regular and frequent mating , the female dove started building its nest on 11th April.It used to flutter across quickly from the Bougainvillea shrub to the adjacent Western Himalayan Spruce tree so that it could evade from being seen by a predator.It started plucking out twigs from the tree , then returning to its chosen nesting site , placed them clumsily one on top of the other,thereby steadily completing its nest .It also used dried leaves of the Himalayan Fur tree to place in the structure.The cycle seemed eternal as the same "searching,returning,placing" business went on for 6 days continously.
Ultimately the process of nidification was completed by 18 th April . The nest was a clumsy structure , placed at a height of 15 feet from the ground , loosely balanced between the Bougainvillea branches.
The eggs were laid 2 days after the nest was built , the female probably taking in some nutritous foods in the meantime.Both the sexes incubated the eggs turn by turn.While one was incubating , the other was busy feeding itself.Everything went on fine till the 'doomsday' for the bird arrived.Unfortunately for the birds , a crow pair , nesting on the opposite tree , had probably seen them.On the 28 th of April , at about noon-time , 2 crows arrived on the scene and perched themselves on the gate of my house.I was inside the house and on hearing the "caws" , rushed outside as i was sure that a crow was definitely around. On going out in the garden , i saw the one of the crows perched on the nest with an egg in its mouth.I immediately hurled some stones on it but it was all too late.
The Nesting of the Dove pair had failed.
The 2nd Nesting Attempt :-
The pair was not seen at all for 30 days in the area.But on 28 th May , the female Spotted Dove was seen entering the Bougainvilea shrub with a twig in its mouth. This was totally surprising as i had not expected to see the pair nesting again , in the same garden , in the same shrub and in a period of just 1 month !
My curiosity rose and i went near the area where it was building the nest. I couldn't make out the exact spot where it was placing the twigs.So i decided to check it out after a couple of days.A small incomplete loosely built structure was spotted.The nest was completed in a period of 7 days.
The eggs were laid and incubated by both the sexes for 15 days.This time the pair seemed determined not to let any predator bird raid its nest , for when i used to go near the nest , it did not fly away and kept watching my movements intently.It did not used to fly away even for a minute , for it was eager to raise its young.
But sadly enough , this time another tragedy struck .The eggs did not hatch even after being regularly incubated for a period of 15 days . So at last the pair flew away and did not return back after that incident.So ,this time also the Nesting of the Spotted Dove was unsuccesful !!
The Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) is a brood parasite. In Singapore the bird lays its eggs in the nest of the House Crow (Corvus splendens). In India it parasitises the nest of the House Crow as well as that of the Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos). Once the koel’s egg hatches, the chick will be looked after by the crows until the former is able to fend for itself.
It is thus surprising when Sunjoy Monga reported seeing an adult female Asian Koel feeding a juvenile koel in Mumbai, India:
“Earlier this morning (28th Apr, c. 0730 hrs) when on a walk along Lokhandwala Back Road and near the BMC lagoon (in Andheri west, suburban Mumbai), I came across some weird shrieking calls from the overgrown foliage along the path."
“A closer check revealed the presence of an adult female koel (left bottom) and near it was a wee-bit slender-of-form, much-darkish, speckled bird that she was feeding, in fact just had finished a bout of shoving food in the juvenile’s beak that was responding as is typical of a just-fed fledgling. The juvenile was instantly recognisable as a (full-fledged) juvenile koel that I have seen on numerous occasions earlier (left top)."
“A bit too early in the season to see a juvenile koel got me wondering. Then I recollected having seen a Large-billed (Jungle) Crow pair nesting not far a few weeks ago near the electric sub-station not far from here (and which I checked today had fallen off considerably). This species invariably breeds earlier than the commoner House Crow and it is not often that I have come across the Large-billed’s nest parasitised by a koel in this region (in fact I think only on a couple of occasions years ago have Jos and I definitely seen so)."
“What was most interesting was watching the female koel feeding the juvenile of her species even as a solitary Large-billed Crow twice made a charge at the scene of activity, evidently to flush away the adult koel who responded with her typically boisterous screams and flew off across into the mangrove and foliage. The young koel meanwhile continued with its hysterical shrieking and the crow appeared as if to feed it but was disturbed by much human movement (morning walkers and a gawking birder I guess) and retreated. A White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis) pair called hysterically which I knew was agitated because their own nest was not very from this spot."
“I waited not far to observe and about two minutes later the female koel reappeared a tree away but was chased away by the crow that arrived at the scene. Pretty soon the juvenile koel too took off across the waterbody with the crow trailing it."
“I made a dash home, about half a kilometre away to pick my camera and try capture this scene and waited an hour more. However, during this time I could not relocate the birds though the crow continued to appear around intermittently and the koel’s familiar crying could be heard in the distance."
“Years ago, we had seen in Kandivli, a female koel feeding a lone koel fledgling. I wonder if any other cuckoo species have been seen feeding their own juveniles reared by another species? Has the koel adult ever been observed feeding juvenile crows too?”
Input by Sunjoy Monga, Mumbai, India. 28th April 2007. Images by YC.
Source : BESG
Friday, July 4, 2008
Date : 2 July 2008
The loud noises of flocks of birds outside my room captured my attention.It's not that birds do not make noises throughout the day in my backyard , but this time it seemed as if they were perturbed by some unusual factor.It was about noon time and I went out in the cemented area of my backyard to check out what was wrong.
Flocks of Jungle Babblers (Turdoides striata ) , Red-Vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus cafer) , White-Eared Bulbuls (Pycnonotus leucotis) , Oriental White-Eyes (Zosterops palpebrosus) ,Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis) were surrounding the 'subdued' Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata) who was perched on the uppermost branch of the Litchi tree (Litchi chinensis). Even the 'rarely seen' Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi) and the 'never seen before' Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) appeared on the scene and tried attacking the owl . The Jungle Babblers did most of the work by making a large amount of noises which seemed to perturb the owl.
The Birds were mobbing it relentlessly and mercilessly throught my 30 minutes of observation , dancing round the hapless , commoved owl , taking turns to jab and jeer at it from all directions. The owl in turn followed this menacing display increasing irritation , swiveling its head all 270 degrees to keep a track on the movements of the birds. It seemed to have been overpowered by the birds,who were united towards their cause. There was a point when the Owl almost lost its balance trying to defend its perch. In the end , the birds were successful in driving away the hapless creaure from the area.The owl flew across to the Bamboo groves and hid itself behind the thick leaves,indicating its presence by calling out its peculiar sound " oo-uk.....oooo-uk ".
The Mobbing of Predator birds seems to be a fairly common occurence in India where Owls are plentiful and are often mobbed by other smaller birds especially while roosting during the day.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
My house has not been built on a very large area since the entire area is about 1 Bigha,having mostly fruit trees such as Mango,Litchi ,Plum,Pear,Guava, Chakotra, Papaya,Peach, Pomegranate etc...The Garden has also not been maintained as such since we allow all types of plants and weeds that come up during the monsoon season to grow.Thus,a plethora of wild plants are present that add a lot of variety to the garden !!
This summer season has been a delight for me since lots ofunusual sightings,behaviour and nests have been witnessed by me during this period...Initially in the month of april, a Red-Ventedbulbul and a Spotted Dove had built their nests on the bougainvillea shrubs and a White-Eye had built its nest well concealed between the braches of a litchi tree in my house...Unfortunately,all 3 nests had been raided by the crow pair, which has been living in its nest on the East Himalayan Fur tree since 4 years.
White-Eared (Himalayan) Bulbul nest
A Plain Flowerpecker had also built its oblong hanging nest on the upper branch of the Lithci tree just besides the 'Tori' Vine but it had survived from the terror of the crows..Around Mid-May,a chich fledged from the nest.
A White-Throated Fantail FLycatcher had also built its nest deepinside the Bamboo Branches , and a chick fledged from the nest tooin the Month of May.
Fantail-Flycatcher plastering its nest with cobweb
3 Days ago as i was strolling in my garden,looking for some bird activity,i noticed a Spotted Dove in the process of nidification in the same Bougainvillea branch where it had made its nest 2 months ago !!...But this time ,it seems determined not to let the crows gulp its eggs since it does not fly away from the nest even for a minute !!...The White-Eye too has built another nest in the Same Litchi tree close to where it had previously built its nest !!...But today at 9:00 am during my stroll in the garden, as i went close to the Plum Tree to gulp down some savory plums,i noticed a nest,which definitely belonged to the Bulbul family ,as suggested by its stucture...Then i saw a pair of Red-Vented bulbul settling down on the Plum Tree and biting the Red- plums ...But it did not go near the nest !! I was surprised !!...May be the Crows had taken away the eggs this time too !!..But then the pair flew over to the Bougainvillea Tree ...I went there to check out what was there that was attracting the bulbuls since 2-3 days ...Then another nest became visible ,but it seemed bigger thanthe normal size,again belonging to the Red-Vented Bulbul !!
So my inference is that during the Breeding Season,if the nesting of any bird fails due to some reason, they again start the process of nidification after a month or two to compensate for the loss of the previous nest and their determination to bring up their off springsis a thing that should be admired by one and all !! Hope they are able to successfully rear their young this time !!
Summary of the Nests found this season uptil now :-
'3' Red-vented Bulbul nests --- 2 on Bougainvillea, 1 on Plum Tree
'2' Spotted Dove Nests --- Bougainvillea Tree
'2' White-Eye nests --- Litchi tree
'1' Plain FLowerpecker Nest --- Litchi tree
'1' Fantail-Flycatcher Nest --- Bamboo tree
'1' White-Eared Bulbul Nest --- Rose shrub
'1' Jungle Babbler Nest --- Litchi tree
About 40-50 birds had settled down on the Bamboo tree just opposite my house .Some of them were medium sized with an orangish belly area and greyish above, some were almost the size of a sparrow,having a round greyish head and forked tail ,while the others were small in size and rose coloured.It was very difficult for me to identify them since they spent most of their time flying and perched on the bamboo only for a minute or two.
After trying hard to identify them for almost 2 hours ,i was finally able to reach the conclusion that one flock consisted of starlings of various kinds such as the Grey-headed Starling,Spot-winged Starling,Brahminy Starling,Common Starling,Asian pied Starling ,but the important thing was that there was not one myna in the flock.
The Second flock which consisted of birds much smaller in size was identified comprising of different kinds of finches such as the Plain Mountain Finch,Common Rosefinch,Dark-breasted Rosefinch,Pink- browed Rosefinch . The second important thing is that not of these birds from either of the two flocks is normally seen in Dehradun,which goes on to show that all these birds exhibit Local Migration in summers
A fantail flycatcher pair had made its nest in the bamboo plants just opposite my house. It started building its nest on 28th February 2008 but as the nest was quite high in the tree and it is in private land, it was not possible for me to monitor the nest.
On 12th March, the bird entered my backyard and perched on the wired fence. It was making graceful sallies after the flies and waltzing and pirouetting in the air, also looping-the-loop in the air.It returned to the fence each time it caught a fly.
I was about 4-5 feet from the bird. But it did not seem to be perturbed by my presence. This could be because the chicks might be needing food in the nearby nest and in order to feed them, it had no choice but to catch flies, no matter if I was around.
It flew back to the nest after every successful catch. It was a magnificent sight to see a bird looping in the air just in front of my eyes.
Last year this bird made its nest in my house. So I have its nest photos with three eggs and also of the bird sitting on the nest
“But on 10th March, an Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) perched on the guava tree and then hesitantly moved to the top of the bath tub "
“It appeared very vigilant and cautious and after making sure that there was no enemies nearby, it plunged into the water and took a fanatical bath. After flapping its wings four to five times, it flew to the nearby Chakotra tree (Citrus maxima) and started grooming its feathers.
It was a fascinating sight for me as I have read in field guides that white-eyes are completely arboreal and do not descend on the ground.”
It may be arboreal but the bird needs a bath and it needs to come to the ground for it.
But as i went closer to the nest ,i noticed that a white-eye was sitting inside it ,as if incubating the eggs..But just then another white eye came to the nest , and the previous one flew away so rapidly to my neighbour's house as if it was being attacked ..The second one took its place in the nest and sat in the same posture !! What could be the reason for this unusual behaviour ??...Looking forward to your replies !