“On the morning of 29th May 2013 in Fraser’s Hill, Peninsular Malaysia, we sighted a pair of Malaysian Cuckoo-shrikes (Coracina javensis) tending to their nest, which was situated high up a tree and constructed upon the fork of a branch. Most of the time, either partner would be seated on the nest, which was largely composed of foliose lichen, with a few strands of filamentous lichen (above, female).
“The male could be recognised by having darker lores, which are almost charcoal black (above, male).
“There is also a small, blackish beard on his chin which is most noticeable when he puffs his throat (above).
“At intervals of between 10 to 15 minutes, either partner would return with a beakful of nesting material, mostly pieces of foliose lichen (above, male). As soon as one partner arrives, the other would fly off immediately in search of more material.
“Very often, the cuckoo-shrikes also came back with strands of spider silk plastered onto their heads (above, male). These silk strands would them be carefully transferred onto the nest to aid with adhesion. In addition, they have also been observed to expel some saliva over the lichen, which probably serves as a natural glue to help bind the nest together. The integrity and strength of the nest would be tested in due course, especially under highland wind and rain. We wish the responsible parents every success as they start a family in the weeks and months to come.
“Relevant video clips of these cuckoo-shrikes may be previewed as follows:
“Female sitting quietly on nest, above.
“Male temporarily vacating nest, above.
“Female returning to nest, then attaching lichen and spider silk. Also appears to apply saliva (natural glue) onto nest, above..
“Male perched on nearby branch, keenly anticipating return of female:
“Nearby, a small family of White-thighed Langurs was feeding at the canopy:
“The Malaysian Cuckoo-shrike (also known as the Javan Cuckoo-shrike) is strictly montane and is a conspicuous bird around Fraser’s Hill (Strange, 2004). Breeding typically occurs from March to June, with two buffish eggs being laid (Robson, 2000).”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming and Dr. Vilma D’Rozario
4th June 2013
1. Robson, C., 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London. 504 pp.
2. Strange, M., 2004. Birds of Fraser’s Hill – an Illustrated Guide and Checklist. Nature’s Niche Pte Ltd, Singapore. 120 pp.
We are grateful to Subaraj Rajathurai for enlightening discussions on the diversity of Cuckoo-Shrikes in Malaysia and kindly sharing his knowledge of their sexual dimorphism and biology.