“Hi, my name is CK Kim. I have a story to share and my kids can’t wait to share it with others. In it, we have some questions about birds. Can you help us with some of it? I wish to make this my son’s school project later on.
“I just want to share this with everyone. It may not be the most exciting news to the staunch ‘birdies’ but for me, it was extremely interesting. For my family, it was a thrilling and exciting time as the bird came by to make her home. In our home! And what’s more, to lay eggs, incubate them, hatch and see the babies fly away!
“My two kids had first hand experience seeing the entire episode revealing to them step-by-step. From mother bird’s recce to making a nest to laying eggs and till the babies learn to walk (fly) and left the nest.
“For us, that was a ‘National Geographic’ time of our lives. It was even quite a hit with the neighbors and relatives! Amazing!
“Started with a pair of birds frequenting our garage doing their reconnaissance. Not long after, they set their minds on this unattractive plant just outside our living room. I mean there was so much more plants in the garden but they chose this one.
“Next, the construction begun. They were at it for nearly a week. You name it, twigs, dried leaves, even tissue paper was used to make their home! Looking at this newly constructed home is another chapter where NATURE was at its best!
“I quizzed my kids (9 & 5 yrs) if given the same materials, would they be able to do what the birds did with their bare hands? (I couldn’t!)
“I mean the nest was totally smooth and evenly-rounded inside. It was nearly a perfect circular shape. We can’t figure out how they bent and twisted the materials to shape up like that. It was just incredible!
“When it was all completed, the mother bird would lie in her nest every evening. She would stay there till daybreak then go on her usual daily routines. When it got dark, she flew back to her nest and slept there.
“A couple of weeks past and one morning, I was woken up my some commotion. My kids were cheering and dancing because, “she gave birth!“, my son exclaimed wildly as they discovered an egg in the nest! Finally! It was very fulfilling at that moment to see this. Our entire family was elated as if someone had really given birth!
“And on the next day while I was preparing to go to work in the morning, I thought I’ll just peek in to see if the egg was still intact, and viola!
“There were two eggs now! Another one came last night.
“As with all mothers in the world, this mother bird was very protective.
“Anyone who went near the nest would be warned by her loud and shrill chirps. Sometimes, another bird (we think its her husband!) would join in and told us off too! And when they warned you, they did with these loud chirps, their feathers at the top of their heads would stand up probably signaling to the ‘predators’ that they meant business.
“So, the mother came home to incubate her eggs every night without fail. She would leave them in the day, coming back to check once every hour on average. For all you know, she was probably up in the trees watching her nest from afar.
“She continued to do that for about three weeks and finally, the magical day arrived.
“The little ones were hatched and like all babies, sleepy!
“They slept and slept for many days.
“During these times, the mother still came home to nest them. She would climb over them and slept above them which made us wonder how could the young ones breathe or survive with the weight on top of them.
“Anyway, after several days, they woke up, stood on their weak little feet and started to chirp too!
“Mother would come back frequently with food in her mouth and give them a good feed.
“About 10 days later, one chick was perching on the nest’s edge. She had this look in her eyes as if they were reading the distance between the nest and the ground. They looked eager to take flight.
“I remember it was a weekend, we were all at home.
“The baby came out again standing on the edge chirping loudly.
“This time, her looks had transformed into what was almost identical as the adult bird.
“And with a big flap of her wings, she took off but didn’t managed to cover much distance.
“She dropped to the ground and tried a few more times. Each flight no more than just 30-50 cm above ground. And each flight took a toll on her. I could see her tired-out after every sortie.
“But after 15 to 20 mins, she managed to open up the entire span of her wings and flew right into the bushes of our garden. Her parents were seen chirping very loudly at that moment. Probably cheering her on and telling us, ‘go away, she don’t need your help!’
“And with a couple more tries, she took off and was on her own, disappearing into the trees.
“The younger sibling did exactly the same, except in later part of the afternoon. On that day, both kids and parents disappeared into their natural habitat.
“But whatever it is, that was one good experience we had had. In fact, it was rather touching and quite melancholy for us as though our own kids had left home for bigger things.
“That’s probably what prompted us to write this story.
“Once in a while, my children would claimed they sighted two birds of the same kind (not sure it’s the parents or the kids) coming back to our garden to play (or coming home to visit?).
“Anyway, the nest is still beautifully intact and we have decided to keep it there as long as we can.
“For those who are reading, can I ask anyone for some views to clear my doubts?
• Those same birds coming back, could they be the same birds visiting? Any views or facts on that? [Difficult to tell]
• What is the name of these birds actually? [Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier]
• Are they common specie in Singapore? I know of swallows, mynahs, sparrows, etc, but this is really my first time seeing this variety. But I must admit I don’t pay a lot of attention to birds prior to this. [Very common]
• Where do they originate? [resident]
• Why would they want to build a nest within a human-populated area or enclosure? Wouldn’t it be unsafe? Why not on the big trees outside my house or smaller trees at my garden? [Have got used to people]
• Anyone any idea how a nest can be built in such a perfect manner? These fellas only have beaks and maybe a little of the feet to help them pull, push, slide, whatever. How do they managed to make such regularly shaped nest? Any scientific explanations for this? [In their genes?]
• Is it true that humans shouldn’t touch or hold the eggs during incubation time? A myth or true? [Better not to disturb the eggs, least the adults abandon them]
• When the eggs broke and the babies came out, what happened to the shells of these eggs? Did they eat it up? [Removed: see HERE]
• And their droppings. Whatever happened to all these? Because when we looked into the nest while the chicks were still resting in there, it was totally clean. No debris, no dirt, no egg shells, etc. Did the parent take it away? [Initially adults probably took away wastes, later chicks eject faecal matter out of the nest. Click HERE]
• The two adult birds that was flying around during the initial period, are they a couple meaning parents to the chicks? So can we safely say one is male and the other female? [Yes]
• Is it true that other birds would never come to lay their eggs in the same (used) nest ? I mean wouldn’t it save them a lot of hassle to just come and lay the eggs rather than to build them from scratch? [Nest probably infected with mites, etc., so better to build another. See HERE]
K. C. Kim
9th February 2009