© Insights To Blue-winged Pittas Part3

on 17th August 2014

“While Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccensis) of IDFR spent most times foraging on ground, there were times they took to tree perch when felt intruded or when calling/looking for their mates (below left). From its perch and whenever safe opportunities arose, feather maintenance and bill swiping were carried out frequently especially after substantial feeds.

“The following images speak a thousand words (above right, below).

“Belly bellowing, feather shuffle and furling to finish off a satisfactory preen (left; below left & center).

“Blue-winged Pittas took a preference to vermin as main diet.

“However, an unfortunate spider (arachnid) surrendered life, hung mercilessly by own web’s strand from a pair of chunky pincers (below right).

“The 8-legged victim was painfully witnessed by a ‘babi kutu’ or wild boar tick that decided to hitch a ride off male Pitta-2.

“If there was any irritation or ectoparasites felt, a vigorous scratch was in order (below left).

“For easy pickings, meal worms scattered by bird-photographers never got refused (above right).

“One of my favourite observations taken in video was witnessing a foraging, vermivorous female doing multiple high jumps and spade digging, neck deep with its strong, thick bill. Here are some blurry video extracts (above, below).

“Only 60secs were needed for expert listener to detect, excavate and expose two huge, juicy earthworms (below).

“Pitta bird wasted no time in decapitating and immobilizing vermin No.1 by vigorous nibbling at its slimy body. She proceeded in haste to sushi up vermin No.2 that got flung onto the other side before earthworm had opportunity to escape (below).

“Having not forgotten vermin No.1 that laid helpless and segmented on ground, she subsequently turned around and slurped a piece up.

“A short chase for the wriggly, decapitated remnant was made to finish off clean on the ground (above, below).

“An upright stance such as this, is a sign of alarm bells ringing to send the ground dweller into alert mode before flight (left).

“So too it is time readers find out which Pitta paired off and to observe insights of their foraging behaviours in partnership.

“Part 4 coming up…”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
5th August 2014

Copyright article and all copy images
Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

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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