Pied Fantail Fledglings

posted in: Fledgling-Fledging, Interspecific | 1

“Here are some observations of my first encounter with fledglings of Pied Fantails (Rhipidura javanica).

“After receiving a tip-off from a fellow photographer, I was a few days late checking on nestlings of Pied Fantail in their nest. The pair of chicks had already fledged and could no longer be found in the nest. However, both parents and their pair of fledglings were still in the vicinity of the nest. But they were well hidden under cover of dense vegetation. The fledglings were discovered perched side-by-side to each other (above). Having each other’s company in the nest, they must have felt more comfortable and safer together. They were waiting to be fed. The adults were busy looking for food but were also keeping vigilance for intruders. A female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) that ventured too near was harassed by the adults and driven away.

“Upon returning to site the next day, the fledglings were no longer together. They were separated as one fledgling and an adult had gone elsewhere and could not be found in the area. Interestingly, the other fledgling and adult remained in the vicinity. A close-up of the fledgling with its gape wide opened showcased its long pointed bristles clearly (above). The fledgling will gape widely to attract its parent’s attention; begging to be fed. On this occasion, the adult returned and landed with either a moth or butterfly in its bill (below).

“As the adult inserted the prey into its wide gaping oral cavity, the fledgling’s nictitating membrane was activated (below), covering and protecting its eye. Speckles of dust that were actually scales from the insect’s wings could be seen floating around in the air when the adult withdrew its bill from the feeding. An opportunity to study the underwing feathers was provided when the fledgling opened its wings during the feeding. Its primary wing feathers were obviously still developing. Its shealth-like pin feathers nearer the skin were quite evident. Obviously, as deduced by its sibling’s disappearance from site, this may hinder but did not totally restrain its capability to fly.

“One week later, this fledgling and adult was still around and another episode of the adult protecting its young was witnessed. A male Asian Koel had decided to perch about 15 metres from where the fledgling was. The adult, which was foraging nearby, was alarmed into taking action. For close to 4 minutes, it carried out sorties to harass the koel; mobbing it from all directions. The constant harassment by the persistent adult fantail finally caused the much bigger koel to be driven away (below).

“Another interesting note was that smaller birds including an Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps) and a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) that were nearer to the fledgling than the koel were tolerated by the adult fantail and not harassed at all.”

Kwong Wai Chong
11th July 2013

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