“Tropical mangrove swamps and their surrounds; be they coastal or along river course are habitats of many living and interesting creatures.
“The specialist and resident bird has to be the terrestrial and colourful elusive Mangrove Pitta (Pitta Megarhyncha) which is increasingly difficult to find these days. Present sighting records officially classify them to be ‘Near Threatened’ under the Birdlife International Red Data Book (RDB of Birdlife International). Their precarious existence is heading for one mark higher to being, ‘Threatened’ if their habitats continue to be depleted and predation left unchecked.
“They live in the mangrove forests spending much of their time hopping in search of their favourite foods – crustaceans and by probing with their large, slender beaks deep into the forest floor that is periodically inundated by the flow and ebb of the tides.
“According to field guide bird books, not much is known about their breeding patterns and behaviors of these elusive birds apart from giving themselves away by the crystal and slurring calls of. ‘Wieuw- wieuw’. That call alone is enough to send a bolus dose of adrenalin rush to those who are passionate about the Pittidae family.
“May, June is about the breeding peak times to likely encounter and to observe the Mangrove Pittas at close quarters when they are most vocal. Let’s meet and be introduced to a nesting pair- probably the only pair, at most two, roaming this small mangrove forest edge of a village in Northern Peninsular Malaysia.
“Meet Mighty the male (above left) and Mindy the female (above right). It is difficult to differentiate the gender in the fields and opportunities to see them together are few or too far apart to scope them together.
“In photographic images, Mighty appears to be darker overall in plumage and his bodice appear to be dumpier as compared to Mindy who is more spindle-like.
“Let us see if Mighty and Mindy would give us this rare opportunity to follow their precarious trail, observe and document their habits and behaviors during their nesting window period.
“Join me on this trail to understand them better, help ourselves as citizen scientists to be aware, responsible, exercising discretion in our observations, in photography and documentation of this pittidae species.
“In doing so and with minimal human interference, it is hoped that threatened species be allowed to regenerate their low population and or slow down their extinction.
Several parts will follow this Mangrove Pitta series with emphasis on their breeding behaviors. This is an unprecedented breeding event observed in May/June 2009. Do enjoy the series.
AVIAN WRITER DAISY O’NEILL PENANG MALAYSIA © Mangrove Pitta breeding 1