The post on the weird behaviour of the Malaysian Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) attracted the attention of Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS as he has an earlier encounter with a Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) with similar behaviour. His account is reproduced below.
“I think, from a medical and clinical view point, that it is foreign body in the mouth/throat of the Malayan Night Heron. In feeding, some sharp object has been impaled in the oral cavity (like a fish bone for us) and the bird is trying to dislodge it.
“To support this, here is sequence of pictures of a Blue-winged Pitta who spent some weeks in our urban garden. These pictures were from December 2008. Once while watching it feed, I saw the exact behavior. It gagged, choked and tried to dislodge an object (foreign body) in the oral cavity.
“The first picture (above left) was taken before the event, showing no foreign body in the oral cavity or beak. The next picture (above right) shows it feeding. Then a gagging/choking shot (below left). Then a picture showing the foreign body in the oral cavity/beak (on the left side) (below right) – this foreign body was retained until the bird left our home some time later.
“It could be that this is not a foreign body but a piece of torn flesh at the mouth but the bird obviously ate something that stuck in the beak/oral cavity and had to gag/choke to get it out.
“We have had almost yearly visits by the Blue Winged Pitta to our urban garden. Next door is an abandoned house (partly overgrown) and our own garden is full of trees with partial undergrowth and leaves – both of these possibly attract these birds. This year some one (a human) has moved in next door.”