“On 18th April 2009, I decided to check on the dead Common Flameback’s (Dinopium javanense) condition (see HERE for the earlier post). On arrival at about 10.00 am at my favorite forest patch, the carcass was still hanging by the neck, the bill still firmly stuck to the branch of the Casuarina tree (Casuarina equisetifolia).
“The carcass attracted two Common Flamebacks. They arrived calling out loudly in a very excited manner, hopping about and checking the carcass closely.
“Darn it! My equipment was still in the boot of my car. So things came out in double quick time. Just then the female flameback attacked the carcass (above). White maggots were extricated from the carcass (below) and ants got onto the female bird’s body, which she quickly shrugged them off in a very vigorous fashion.
“The male did not participate in the attack of the carcass. It just hung around looking at what the female was doing. The continuous plunging of the very sharp bill into the carcass was so vigorous that the carcass got dislodged from the branch and fell to the ground.
“With the carcass on the ground, the male flameback went to check the hole where the dead bird had been stuck. No, it did not try to peck into the hole, it just looked very closely into it and then moved off.
“The two flamebacks followed the carcass to the ground, pecking away at the dead bird. I was not able to document the ground action because of the thick vegetation. Only after clearing the vegetation was I able to take some shots of the dead bird, covered with flies (above).”
19th April 2009
Note: The flies seen in the last image are blow flies (F: Calliphoridae), looking like house flies but larger, with large red eyes and metallic looking bodies that are bluish or green. They lay their eggs in the mouth, nostrils or any shaded crevices on the carcass. The larvae or maggots develop within a few days and actively feed on the dead tissues, soon completely stripping the flesh, leaving only the feathers and bones. The female flameback that visited the carcass was obviously picking on the maggots. Check out what happens to a dead bird HERE.