Of nesting shift duties and Coppersmith Barbets (Part 2)

on 21st February 2009

Early morning rise is always a good time to observe daytime birds as they begin their day activities. Observe where they perch and roost, what they feed on, when they poo, colour of their plumages, dramatic features, how they socialise, their calls, where their favourite habitats are determined, survival instincts of fight or flee from predators, breeding habits, nesting and parental roles in reproducing their species.

My discovery of a nesting pair of Coppersmith Barbets (Megalaima haemacephala) close to home provided many opportunities to observe their nesting routines and behaviours for documenting photographic sequential digiscopy shots.

Routine observations began just before 8am. The dry and hot season of January and February stripped semi-deciduous trees off foliage, leaving only skeletal branches to hang against the sky. Most digiscopy shots were back lighting shots taken at least 70 degrees elevation and 20-30 feet away from nesting site.

Over five mornings, Nightshift bird was seen daily and frequently peeping from nest cavity. Time ranges from 0807hs-0834hs before being relieved by Dayshift bird. These two images show Nightshift’s exit at 0811hs and 0834hs taken in two different mornings (left).

What does Nightshift do whilst waiting for Dayshift to show?

Let’s take a look at these sequential shots taken 29th January 2009 over an 18 minutes observation period (top down, left to right).

The usual classical 3-step look-out approach- ‘Look right, look left and front/right again’ was executed.

Feeling restless, one of the birds appeared to have the habit of climbing out of the cavity hastily, clinging on to the edge, a quick look, made a re-entry, turned around, looked out and waited for Dayshift’s call.

Here are two more images taken on two different days at 0809hs and 0815hs (above left and middle).

Nightshift too has the job of also throwing out the night ‘rubbish bag’ and this was first observed on 31st January 2009 (above right).

What’s in the bag apart from wood shavings? Seen anything different yet..?

Join me next to observe Dayshift’s synchronising show of some good, teamwork.

All images taken by Digiscopy techniques
Optics used: Fieldscope ED82 +30x + Coolpix P3

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

2 Responses

  1. Are there any declines in the coppersmith within urban environments in Singapore ?

    There seem to be big declines in India and there are some suggestions that the larger species of barbet compete, even by evicting the young of coppersmiths, and are able to capitalize on some introduced fruit trees such as Muntingia.

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