A dead chick in the garden…

on 31st August 2014

In late May, I found a dead chick lying on the ground in my garden (above). Only a few ants were around to feed on the chick. How it got there is a puzzle. It was definitely not pushed out of the nest, as all the trees were some distance away. A predator could have dumped it there. But then the dead chick was intact, no parts missing. So what was the intention of the predator, if not to feed on it?

I have not been able to identify the dead chick. I have images of a two-day old Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) but it is definitely not a bulbul (below left). I did encounter dead Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) chicks lying around in the garden some time before. This dead chick may be Javan Myna but I am not sure (below right). Any opinions?

The dead chick is blind, meaning that the eyes have yet to open (below). Its entire body is sparsely covered with natal down. These are fluffy, soft, vaneless feathers that lack a feather shaft. Natal down is present only at the time of hatching. Thus this chick is most probable about one or two days old.

Had the chick lived, it will develop its first set of feathers, the juvenal feathers. These feathers will push out the natal down that will often remain attached to their ends for some time. The new feathers are sheathed, appearing as pin feathers, see HERE.

Prominent on both sides of the head and lining the oral cavity are the swollen, light yellow orange flanges. Together with the bright red gape that these flanges surround, they serve as “food targets” for the adults to direct food into LINK. As the chick grows older, these oral flanges disappear.

YC Wee
August 2014

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)