One day this year, Joe Yao came across a male White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) perching on a branch of a tree (above). He returned to the same location at around the same time the next day and there it was at on the branch. Realising a photo opportunity, he returned a third time, equipped with his camera and draped in a camouflage net, hoping to get nearer the perch. As luck would have it, the bird did not land on the same perch but on the ground nearby.
As Joe turned around to leave the place he came across a rotting palm trunk, probably that of a fishtail palm (Caryota mitis). There, inside the hollow rotting trunk were four chicks packed together (above). He realised that he had stumbled upon the nest of the White-rumped Shama.
Over a period of 12 days he returned to the area to document the development. The nest was completely empty on his last day of visit but he managed to locate one of the fledged chicks. As he recounted: “Hopefully, all four of them are safe and sound to grow up into adults, and this supposedly near extinct species would have increased by four in number. To fully appreciate the beauty of this species, you have to listen to its melodious call.”
Joe has made a video clip of both the male and female shama (below-top) and also one of the fledged chick (below-bottom) which can be viewed here.
Note: The White-rumped Shama is a spectacular songster with a great variety of whistles as it has the ability to mimic other birds. This unfortunately has been its downfall as it is regularly trapped and traded. The situation is such that there may be more shamas caged than in the wild. Whether the pair that Joe encountered were escapees is anybody’s guess. The fact that the bird is breeding, and nesting near to a public area, points to the possibility of the species making a slow comeback.
Input and images by Joe Yao.