Red-whiskered Bulbul: 3. The egg hatched… then tragedy

posted in: Nesting-failed, Videography | 11

Nest building by the pair of Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) in the Belimbing (Averrhoa carambola) tree is posted HERE while an account of the incubation can be viewed HERE.

After about 12 days of incubation, there were signs that an egg had hatched.

On the evening of the 12th day, the arrivals and departures from the nest increased significantly, as compared to the incubation period. Setting up a video camera near the nest and leaving it there for two hours provided interesting information.

Whereas during incubation there were few movements in and out of the nest, the hatching of the first egg saw about three times more movements. The adults arrived more often (between 2-20 seconds) and were absent from the nest for shorter periods (between 1 second and 11 minutes).

There were plenty of singing during this period. An adult even sang after entering the nest, a situation not seen during incubation when entry into and exit from the nest were done stealthily. Then there were even duetting. There was even an incident when, as soon as an adult flew from the nest, another flew in.

The day after the egg hatched, the pair of adults was as usual busy flying in and out of the nest bringing food for the chick. As the nest was hidden behind the foliage, the chick was not seen. However the adults were caught on video on at least two occasions with food between the mandibles as they entered the nest.

By late morning the nest was abandoned. The video above shows that everything was normal until some loud and strange calls were heard towards the end. Can this be the call of a predator? And that the predator took off with the chick? Could it be a squirrel? Any opinion by anyone would be appreciated.

By evening there were no activities around the nest. The next morning when the Red-whiskered Bulbuls were not seen around the tree, the nest was checked. It was empty with no sign of the chick.

Another failed nesting!

YC Wee
May 2015

11 Responses

  1. romello

    A similar situation occurred in 2015 summer.a horil attacked and left with young ones in few minutes all was over.horil observed movement of bulbul from a large neem tree about 40 feet away for many days.attacked the day eggs 2017 bulbul returned for nesting.hatching 3 4th day.

  2. Wolfgang Hieronimi

    I have experienced similar. Here , in Chiangmai, it was a Flying Tree Snake which starts robbing baby birds out of their nest by early morning hour.
    Found a nest now between my orchids, hidden under the plant’s leaves. I am afraid, after hatching, the young ones will be eaten by a Flying Tree Snake. They get attracted by the noise the babies create when parents arrive with food.

  3. Lee Chiu San

    Though I love the Flying Snakes as much as I love birds, sad to say, they are ferocious predators that quite bravely tackle prey you would not expect them to. Here in Singapore, our two species of Flying Snakes, Chrysopelea paradisi and Chrysopelea peleas, are relatively small. The former grows to about 1 meter (they have been reported to get slightly larger, but I have never seen one) and the latter does not reach 1 meter. Nevertheless, they will bravely do battle with even quite large geckos and agamid lizards. However, I very much doubt that they would be capable of swallowing a baby bulbul. A sunbird maybe.
    The further North you go, the larger the Flying Snakes grow. Chrysopelea ornata, the more common species in Mainland Asia, is supposed to reach almost two meters. I have no first-hand experience with this species, but if it is as gung-ho as its smaller cousins in Singapore, it should be a formidable predator for small birds.

  4. Pixie

    Last year a pair of yellow vented bulbuls nested in bush outside my neighbour’s house and had a chick. Our cluster housing near Somerset is often visited by a pair of Oriental pied hornbills and a baby. One afternoon papa hornbill heard the bulbul chick, jumped onto the balcony to have a better look and jumped onto the bush to snatch the baby (while we were watching 3m away). We quickly chased it away. However the next day, a crow (unknown to us) predated on the near fledgling bulbul chick. The parents made loud terrible noises. Good news, this year the bulbul pair raised a chick that fledged (nest was built outside my window and is more hidden). It has been 3 weeks since the baby fledged and the parents are still feeding it in the nearby trees 🙂

  5. YC Wee

    Cannot remember the statistics but not all nesting end up successful. There are many predators around.

  6. wolfgang hieronimi

    wanted to send you pictures of the bulbul nest , but do not find the way for uploading.

  7. Jomon Joseph

    I am from Durgapur West Bengal India. Recently I witnessed two such incidents. One
    month before found Red whiskered bulbul nested small plant infront of my house. Later it layed 3 eggs and started incubation. After three days my friend found the nest is abondend. We checked the nest but some predator eaten the eggs. We couldn’t find out exctly which predator, but suspecting monitor lizards, because the three eggs are eaten simultaneously. Another bulbul nest found plant near the previous one, but similar episode was happend at last week. Law nature but one side sad feelings.

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