Of sani-sentry duties and Coppersmith Barbets (Part 6)

on 23rd March 2009

Home renovation and housekeeping chores is an on-going process that nesting parents perform and share duties to accommodate their growing hatchings.

Removal of waste was observed to be carried out several times a day; either simultaneously after feeding their young or during patrols on ‘AveWaste Express’ and disposed off a distant flight away (left).

It was also noted in a couple of instances, chick poo and contents were dropped off from their favourite perch of the Albizia (Paraserianthes falcataria) tree.

While Goggle-Eye, the female Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) was entrusted to spend more time providing sorties of delicious figs and berries throughout the day, Blowfish usually initiated a couple of joint trips in the mornings and again before sundown.

The rest of the time, Blowfish conscientiously took on his primary role of sentry duties. Sometimes it got boring and he was seen yawning. He showed a black tongue (below).

His duty began smoothly and steadily on his favourite perch where his outpost- the Albizia tree, overlooked 100 metres away from the nesting site.

This was soon going to change as my observation turned into frenzy confusion. I was seeing three barbets on the nesting tree!

Who was who? A curious competitor of Blowfish has showed up and a showdown was just about to begin.

Curiosity Joe was seen creeping from behind the branch and reached out for a ‘look-see’. He then crawled round the cavity entrance and stuck his face into the nesting cavity to have a peep. Goggle-Eye was at home (below left).

Blowfish swiftly swooped towards the nest and confronted Curiosity Joe with karate leg stunts and gave out a two note angry call, like a furious, noisy woman chasing the ‘other woman’ with broom, sending the latter to flee!.

Blowfish leant his lesson quickly. From that day onwards, it was observed his sentry outpost was shifted to a mere two metres from the nesting cavity and not 100 metres away as observed earlier (above centre). He got switched on. The slightest cross-over of a resident squirrel species to another tree would send Blowfish on an attack mode. The latter would fly and swipe passed the scurrying creature (above right).

Even a buzzing bee was an insult to Blowfish. He tried to catch it with his beak. Sentry duty is a serious business for this macho guy (below left)!

But, he was a bit careful who to take a swipe at when having to share tree with the big boys- House crows (Corvus splendens) and Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis).

It was interesting an observation which I could not understand for a moment why Blowfish was seen to be chasing after Goggle-Eye, the latter with fruit in beak. When they got to a branch together, Goggle-Eye surrendered the fruit to Blowfish who then flew into the nest. A blurry image issued.

It happened so quickly (above: centre & right).

Has Goggle-Eye lost her nerve to enter home after having been startled by Curiosity Joe’s face staring down at her?

“What’s next Avian Writer?”

Showtime is next in Part 7 to wow at the power of flight by the ubiquitous pair.

Of Sani-Sentry Duties & Coppersmith Barbets (Part 6)
All images by digiscopy technique
Optics used: Fieldscope ED82 +30x + P3/P4

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.

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