Mangrove Pitta breeding: 5. Faecal sac

on 15th April 2010

“The frequent and consistent rate at which parental Mangrove Pittas (Pitta megarhyncha) were feeding their seemingly seen three life chicks via my field scope, demanded house-cleaning. Their excretions would have to be dealt with and nest kept clean and odour free to detract potential predators to the nesting site.

“The physiological aspect of chicks removing their waste products is through collection of their poo in a white membrane called faecal sac and subsequently evacuated through the anal canal.

“It was observed that when ‘potty’ time was due, a parent after feeding chick did not fly off immediately but stayed, communicated and waited for some sort of an exchange at the entrance of the nest (below left).

“The scene changed when a chick turned around to expose its posterior. The chick was seen expelling the faecal sac. In the process, the midwife parent pecked and fished out the appearing white, pearl looking sac and flew off with the waste (above centre and right).

“How Mother Nature and their feathered parents played out this interesting scenario was worth capturing in movie mode. An unusual observation took place in one of the observations. A chick was seen with faecal sac in its mouth! The chick managed to scramble to the nest’s entrance, to the awaiting parent to have its poo removed my AvianWaste Express Oral – Speciale (left).

“Remnant poo was partially seen in throat of one chick.

“All images of birds taken in this documentation series were taken by digiscopy technique, no less than 20 feet from subject and more than 35 feet from nesting site. Great care was taken to ensure my presence and position did not generate undue stress nor compromise routine feeding of chicks. No attempts were made to investigate or be close to nesting site to eye view eggs or chicks at anytime as descriptions of such are already available in bird field guides and reference books.

“A total of 4+1 selected visits were made to the location to extract sufficient observations in compiling the series. All observations were done via binoculars 8×42 and Fieldscope during a window period of 27 days from 1st sighting of parental Pitta with nesting material to the last day where 3 viable chicks were seen in nest.

“The 5th visit saw a vacated nest within 72 hours of previous sighting.”

© Mangrove Pitta breeding part 5

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.

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