Nesting of the Mangrove Pitta

on 16th June 2009

“A pair of Mangrove Pittas (Pitta megarhyncha) has just made their nest next to the car park of Air Hitam Dalam Recreational Forest in Penang. The nest was discovered back in early May of this year and is located near the bottom of a clump of nibung palms (Oncosperma sp.) at the edge of the swamp forest (below left). Both parents share the responsibility of building the nest (left) and feeding the three chicks (below right).”

Choy Wai Mun
Reflections of Wings and Inspiration
Penang, Malaysia
11th June 2009

The nest was constructed near the ground, reported to be domed or globular to tunnel-shaped with a side entrance. The entire nest is supported by a solid platform of sticks.

Images by Choy Wai Mun.

Erritzoe, J. (2003). Family Pittidae (pittas). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D. A. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 8. Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp.106-160.
2. Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.

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

18 Responses


  2. I shall keep this screen capture of this article as a record of a nesting episode so that the next time anybody gives any flak on this matter, I can quote accordingly. Thanks you so much.

  3. Wa Lau! Some mighty proud Malaysian Nature Lovers who avocate don’t do these and don’t do that BUT are so proud to display what they saw and photograph and telling opening the site!

    And you guys should see how they (many!) ‘INVADED’ and occupied the FLIGHT PATH of the pitta, standing a stick length from the nest!

    Phiew! A Pot calling a Kettle black! Go back to school lah!

  4. Yah, should not reveal nesting site. Birders and photogs SMS/phone/email each other and I was the last to know. By the time I got there, so many people that I have to wait my turn. People from Kedah to Singapore already know, all crowding around. Now more people will know and I may not get my chance next time. Birders and photogs should keep site a secret and not share with others who will spoil everything.

  5. I saw pictures of Who’s Who, parked right in front of the nest and the cheek the AVIAN WRITER has to tell people off! When it’s convenient for them to photograph the birds at such distance, it’s ok but when bird photographers are there first, then it’s hell. Where are your manners and your so-called bird etiquette huh??? Up in that bird brain of yours??? So this is the kind of practice that you preach?

    Note to Avian Writer, now we know how you get your comparison shots. Your previous claims to bird photographers disturbing the nest is now practiced by yourself and to think that you prosecuted a fellow birder who took you to the nesting site by putting him in front of a panel of MNS Penang committee, accusing him of killing the baby pittas which you didn’t even have the guts to show up! Now I know what you did last summer!

  6. I understand that the chick has fledged. If this is so, obviously the disturbances to the pittas were not as bad as made out to be. Can it be that photographing from inside vehicles poses minimum problems to the birds? As in the case of photographing wildlife in Africa?

    Problems between the two groups (birders and photographers) and within groups apparently were worse, as seen from the comments.

  7. I need to clarify that I take full responsibility for the publication of the piece, not CWM. It was an oversight on my part that the exact location was included. A thousand apologies…

  8. Dear YC, it was never your fault to have published the article, the author wanted you to, otherwise he would not have sent you so early the articles and photos, before the chicks could even spread their wings. He knows who I am now, wmw998,from NPX, he is welcome to confront me for this comment !! Frankly, it doesn’t matter what he does, but please, in plain and simple English, he mustn’t tell others what to do, or worse, tell others what not to do while he does it himself. See, he ends up having people like ANTI MNS, ANTI HYPOCRITES and NEST RAIDERS after him….. nice names, but named for a good reason.
    I have also read an article written by a British working locally, about us having GEARS BUT NO IDEAS. Again, I do not think it is right to hurl insults at us. I do not need to tell him as to how many university degrees that we need to have, to be able to defend ourselves, the bird photographers. Take my word for it, we do have a little brain that is able to respond when pricked ! All this guy needs to do is to take a look at some of the photos in NPX, taken with flash. I suppose he is so confident of his skill that he can criticise about skills of others….. or was he really against ‘stressing’ the birds with flash ?
    Never mind, the chicks are gone, whether they can live a day longer or not, it now depends on the predators around them, and how smart they are. Without GEARS and NO IDEAS, I am sure they still have a good chance to live to see us next year. By which time, I hope they can see us all happy as a big family, at the same carpark,taking their family portraitS for them again. Whether we are from MNS,AMNS,PB, NR, Bsc, MBA …. am sure the birds will want us to SHOW RESPECT TO EACH OTHER, AND NOT FIGHTING OVER SOME PATCHES OF TUFT, LIKE KIDS !

  9. Thanks wmw998. Still, I take full responsibility…

    If I may say so, the current squabbles arise as a result of new players challenging the monopoly of birders. Being new to the game, many photogs are totally unaware that they are causing stress to the birds. New birders have older and more experienced colleagues to guide them. Not so photogs. Do not forget that experienced birders did not become angels overnight. I personally know of many who started off causing disturbances to birds and plants. Only with time did they slowly learn to respect the birds they are observing.

    So birders should stop yelling at photogs in the field. Instead, how about talking to them nicely? And if more birders interact closely with photogs, and an example has been made by pitta lover, there would be better understanding and less accusations in the future.

  10. Yeah,
    I do understand that the throng of newbies in addition to (expert) birdwatchers are quite stressing to nesting birds, however, it is to me okay that the reports on nesting be published, and as to location, I agree that if people know, it is best not to tell their friends, especially if they have NO IDEA what to do in the field.

  11. Dear all,

    I take full responsibility for my posting and not YC. I am sorry for causing such an uproar with my posting. I decided to post the article as the chicks were about to fledge. I was also under the impression at that time that most, if not all, birders and photographers knew about the nest.

    It is true that initially I did tell others not to do disclose the nest (upon the advice by a friend) but judging for the crowd from weekend to weekend, it did not make any difference. Anyway, I am not trying to make up excuses. Thank you for all your comments and criticism. It made me realize just how delicate and sensitive the situation is regarding posting of nesting birds.

    For the record, I have never condemn any birders or photographers before. I feel that birding and bird photography should be a joyful activity and to enjoy the birds. But I know that this world is not always a joyful place to start with in the first place. If it makes any difference, I only come to know of Avian Writer’s posting after I have posted mine.

    My sincere apologies to everyone again.

  12. It is decent of you to take the responsibility, Mun. But whatever it is, the buck stops at my desk. Like you, I thought everyone who was anyone, knew of the nesting. Obviously those who knew would not like others who did not know, to know. Well, we live and learn.

  13. I was there earlier and went off to the other part of the park. When I came back to the nestling site, Mun was there but he “pretend” not to know anything about the nestling until I asked about it. So obviously he is trying to protect the bird – which is noble of him. Later, another group of photographers came and they stood right infront of the nest without moving away even when villagers came along. When I asked, a friend told me that the photographers came from Ipoh and that they just don’t have time to wait but to shot the photo. They don’t even bother to “pretend” when non-birders came. The nest was exposed. So next time, keep it to yourself unless you know which birders can “pretend”. We must not tell any “kayu” photographers.

  14. At the end of the day, it is my point of view that we should never publish the exact location of a nesting site. This is even more true for sensitive, habitat dependent species.

    It is important to document the nesting but the needs of the bird should always outweigh the needs of the birder or bird photographer.

    A mention of the general area or reserve should be sufficient for records purposes.

  15. Dear Member Readers,

    In May/June a pair of Mangrove Pittas was discovered breeding in Penang State Malaysia. A series comprising of interesting articles in behavior was made available with instruction to our administrator to keep them on hold until I can confirm chicks fledging from nest.

    Unfortunately, due to error of judgement both from the administrator and CYM in assuming that ‘many people already know about it’ CYM’s article Nesting of the Mangrove Pittas of 16 June got posted prior to chicks vacating nest.

    This caused an uproar and unsavoury comments of sorts followed.
    Kindly ignore those false and twisted accusations directed at Avian Writer for they were written and edited (total 2 persons) out of spite by envious phantoms looking for scape-goats and cowardly squirting with water pistols behind skirts and cover of trees, while lead-playing out their fantasies of engaging in commmando war games, shooting birds with big toys in the Malaysian jungles, I may say.

    What is true- I advised against/ or say chided a hooded bird-photog for sneaking into the nesting area for photographic handshots 4-5 feet away when left alone by his buddy… I am able to substantiate what I said with a photograph of this hooded buddy stalking the nesting site on June 12 and need be, to post as necessary. This image already shown to the administrator.

    The nice thing about digiscopy is with 30x magnification lens, one cannot be faulted to be too close to a subject for photography. Anything less than 15 feet, the image is blur. Those accusations were baseless on hear say and conived without record distant measurements to judge. I have no clue when that alledged incident ever took place!

    My advocacy of good birding practice remains. The outcry of comments is a positive sign that it is working to some while those remainding recalcitrants are but trouble makers and should be zipped up and out or wait to die.

    Contributors spend time, resource and effort to get articles into post. Commentators don’t even pay cent to read them. What makes them think they have the right to make unpleasant and distorted accusations at contributors? If one dont like the article, don’t read them but keep judgement to oneself not asked or invited to do so.

    The nest is now vacated. I am putting the Mangrove Pitta series on hold until those unsavoury comments about Avian Writer is requested removed. I also hold commentator-AntiHypocrite and CYM accountable for depriving reader members access to the Mangrove Pitta series.

    Contributors and articles mean nothing to BES if there are no readers to enjoy what is being written.

    This is an opportunity for member readers to speak up, decide and make the necessary request if you would like to read those interesting and detailed accounts of the Breeding Pittas or hug those unsavoury comments about me for posterity. But can’t have both …Sorry.

    Daisy O’Neill
    Avian Writer Penang Malaysia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)