Common Flameback confrontations

posted in: Interspecific, Intraspecific | 6

“I was tracking a pair of Common Flamebacks (Dinopium javanense) this morning (26th June 2014) and was fortunate enough to observe three episodes of their behaviour; one of which was interspecies and the other two within the species. (Image above shows the pair, photographed some time ago in the same locality.)

Interspecies Aggression:

“The female was foraging when she encountered a plantain squirrel (Callosciurus notatus). A standoff ensued. It was unclear if she was defending something or just decided not to fly away. The flameback was calling loudly with its wings spread open while the squirrel released a series of short barks. After a short while, the squirrel retreated. (Images above and below are extracted from a series of burst shots to show that this was a close encounter.)

The image below is a better picture showing the flame back’s posture.

Intraspecies (non)-aggression:
“The pair then moved on to a taller tree, where they encountered a female flameback (below). The anticipated showdown did not occur and they moved on shortly after.

“The third location again yielded some observations.

“As they approached a grove of coconut trees, the male flameback immediately flew into a window (above) while the female continued to hunt for food among the coconuts (below). This was unlikely to be an accidental window-crashing (as I first thought) as the male repeated this a few more times, and was at times resting on the window sill for a few moments before resuming his attack. No calls were made. The attack only ended when the female flew off and the male decided to follow.

Jasper Lim
26th June 2014

6 Responses

  1. Zhenxi

    I think he may be referring to the bird attacking its own reflection on the window.

  2. Daisy O'Neill


    The confronting behaviour of flashing its wings wide at the Plantain squirrel was to make herself appear bigger- a natural defence mechanism to ward off enemies. Size does count to intimidate if one decides to take up a challenge. Many bird species do it.

    The second encounter with another female could be a member of its own family. The rear pose- not able to discern if it was the pair’s juvenile brood foraging below.

    The third encounter by the male is called ‘mirror fighting’ or boxing where the bird encounters its own reflection and thought could be his adversary to defend/ his mate and ‘box’ with the mirror. He lost interest when the female flew away as you said the boxer followed.

    You have an interesting last photo shot of the female with an old hanging coconut. There is a cavity – has this bird been using it as nesting cavity?. The pic. also shows an insect or sort in the bill tip of the female which appears like this parent has some duties to perform.

    I have never encountered Flamebacks choose old hanging coconut as nesting site material. This could be a new record if it does.

    Nice observation.


    Daisy O’Neill

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