“There were many Chinese Pond-herons (Ardeola bacchus) at this site in non-breeding plumage. This particular bird’s behaviour was puzzling. It picked up and held a torn rag. I watched for 20 minutes and it was largely motionless. When I approached it raise its hackles, almost as if to say ‘this rag is mine, go fine your own’.
“I considered a number of possibilities for the odd behaviour:
1. The rag was somehow embedded (stuck) in the beak – however I had seen it pick it up, and once lay it down and take it back up.
2. The rag was imbibed with the odour of some food, say a fishy smell and taste. But the bird did not attempt to swallow it.
3. I was left with the possibility of collection for breeding. But the bird is in non-breeding plumage and period. Also not known to breed in the peninsular. Perhaps a ‘sham’ or trial run for breeding?
“It flew off and I was not able to follow the path it took.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
19th January 2014
Location: Chemor, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Open fields adjacent to secondary forest