On 15th June 2006, Lin Yangchen made this observation: “Although the Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana) at Loyang have packed up, the Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensises) are still in business. I joined a pair of them at lunch. One was uttering expletives perched at the top of one of the dead coconut trunks sticking out of the sea while the other was feeding their kids in the cavity just below the top. The bill of the food-collecting parent was smeared with orange bits of leftovers which I couldn’t identify and he/she didn’t bother to wipe his/her beak. The food was transferred down from an opening at the top of the trunk, which means that the kids got rained on quite heavily. In any case the nest seemed too small for even one parent to enter; do the parents go hide somewhere else during a storm? I don’t suppose leaving a nest unprotected during heavy rain would expose it to great risk of predation. But how about hypothermia? Does the glossiness of the species’ plumage indicate the presence of some hydrophobic coating that confers higher water resistance?
“This seemingly hostile environment is, however, immune to land attack. Air strikes are mediated by communal nesting. And imagine yourself as a juvenile preparing for takeoff on your maiden flight. Anything less than Top Gun will be banished forever to the bottom of the sea.”
Input and images by Lin Yangchen.