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Striped Tit Babbler: A failed nesting

on 31st August 2008

Tsen Thau Ming a.k.a. t_tsen was again at the Admiralty Park in August 2008. This time he stalked a pair of nesting Striped Tit Babbler (Macronous gularis) and documented their nesting that unfortunately ended in failure.

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“On August 7… I spotted a Striped Tit Babbler with nesting material flying low over the ground (left). My instincts told me that it was about to start building a nest or had already started. I followed the bird with my bino and when it flew behind some trees, I lost it. Their loud calls could be heard and I made out about 4 to 5 birds in the vicinity.

“Waiting in camo pull over, I sat on a fallen tree trunk. Their calls were all around me, but the birds were high up in the trees. Suddenly, out from nowhere, one flew in front of me. This time I saw where it landed, watching it carefully I saw the bird hop from the branch and into a large, curled up, dried leaf that had fallen from the tree above and lodge itself into the branches below (below).

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“The bird left the nest after it had placed the nesting material into the leaf. From my observation, the materials varied from long dried leaves about 15cm long to short ones, thin pieces of twine was also used…. The nest was situated at about 1.70m from the forest floor…

“I watched over a period of 3 hrs as the pair built their nest. A loud squabble changed my point of view away from the nest to see two Striped Tit Babblers fighting. The winner flew back to the nest with some material in its beak. As I watched, I noticed something strange, there were 3 birds bringing material to the nest but only 2 seemed to be building. The other would go near the nest only to be chased off. It dawned on me that this perhaps was a lazy bird trying to ‘steal’ another birds nest material for it’s own. And this was perhaps why the earlier squabble was all about. As it was very cloudy and about to rain, I left the area.

“I returned on 8 Aug at 7:30am to find the nest still intact and the birds still building… Once in awhile, the 3rd bird would still come back to try ‘steal’ nest material and again would be chased away.

“…My observations showed that both birds were active in the building of the nest. Time between each entry and exit ranged from between 2 to 3 mins. Flat bladed leaves about 15cm were the preferred material…

“I did not return from 9-10 August. Rain over the past few days had made me anxious. I returned on 11 August. …The leaf was no longer hanging on the branch. And the calling of the babblers was no longer heard in the area. I did a search of the forest floor hoping to find that fallen leaf and nest. But could not find it.

“I returned again the next day with better weather. The morning light was good and I found the leaf and nest about 10m away from the original site. The leaf had since dried from the rain, the material inside however was still damp. I was glad that I found it. I returned the leaf to the original site in hopes that the birds would return. None came back. However, the babblers were still in the nesting vicinity that day.”

This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

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