“The located nesting site of the breeding pair of Mangrove Pittas (Pitta Megarhyncha) was wedged in between the base of a palm tree species branch and elevated fallen decayed fronds.
“Its low lying location gave easy access to predators – wild and tame alike but offered excellent views for birders and bird-photographers. It couldn’t have been the best and worst of places to build a nest- a ‘Wow’- bane situation. Scattered green foliages on the fore ground indicated the presence of visitations by primates. Resident macaques were often seen making their presence felt in their favourite trees.
“Monkey infested forests are known to yield low bird counts lost to egg predation. They are menacing, observant creatures of the wild and would not resist first opportunity to check out their curiosities and of humans’ presence.
“Unknowingly/knowingly, birders and bird-photographers too do make nesting locations easier for these observing primates present when directing visual aids at point of interests.
“The village, feline pet on a freedom prowl would love a Pitta Sushi. Together with prospecting plantain squirrels, they were added predatory risks to eggs and hatchings. Feathered relatives too were no exception. This was observed when a pair of breeding Jungle Mynas (Acridotheres fuscus) was seen picking up nesting materials (left).
“They went too close (15 feet away) for Mindy- the female Mangrove Pitta comfort.
“Let’s have a look at some body language mechanics of the defender taken in the remaining images below. Mindy reacted by twitching her tail nervously and went into a crouch position hoping to avoid detection (below).
“It did not work. The mynas plodded towards her. The sentry on duty stood up and tried another defensive move.
“She inflated her belly… (right).
“Oi! I AM MIGHTIER THAN YOU!’ cried Mindy.
“The image on the right shows feather rising at the lower belly on full inflation. On inspiration having lost all breath, the chest is raised followed by deflation of the belly. In expiration, the belly returns to normalcy.
“All executed within one minute. Well… it was a wasted defensive attempt at Sun Tzu’s strategy. The Jungle Mynas were just too busy to attend to other matters of progenating importance to give a second look at Mindy.
“Discerning readers might also make note that these lucky shots of the Mangrove Pitta show partial white wing patch over black primary feathers. This is not frequently seen during perched or standing position as described earlier.
“Is it just co-incidental or is the bird caught letting its prim composure down when stressed up or whatever, letting the wings hang to reveal it’s secret ‘tattooed’ patch while focusing on other issues?
“Are Mangrove Pittas good vigilantes?
“Join me again in Part 3 on the trail, for a closer look at shared sentry- duty behaviors of Mighty and Mindy- the Mangrove Pittas in mainland Penang, Malaysia.”
AVIAN WRITER DAISY O’NEILL PENANG MALAYSIA
© Mangrove Pitta breeding: Predators