Black Magpie – calls an unusual behaviour

posted in: Nesting, Vocalisation | 2

“Came across a pair of Black Magpie (Platysmurus leucopterus leucopterus) that was involved in nesting activities. I have begun to learn the locations and behaviour of some of the Black Magpie at this site.

“A recording HERE and waveform/sonogram (above) of the ‘xylophone’ sequence calls “tok-tok teling-klingk-klingk” (see Wells 2007).

“An unusual behaviour I saw of one adult tearing and pulling at a banana leaf (above). It did come away with a piece (above). My images were taken through much foliage and are limited in quality. I am unsure if this is for nesting or was there some prey hidden in the leaf (it was curled to begin with).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
29th June 2014

Location: Ulu Kinta Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Previously logged forest with secondary growth and some primary forest


2 Responses

  1. daisy oneill

    Dear Amar,

    I used to remember as a child, I played in my home backyard and there were many banana trees with part of their leaves curled up. My curiosity took a better of me and I would tear off the curled bit that looked like leaf trumpets and uncoiled them to play with.
    I would find wrigglys in them. Now I believe they had to be caterpillars and sometimes in a phase of chrysalis. Also to recall, there were also spiders and webs in those coiled banana trumpeted leaves.

    Your Black MAGPIE was likely to be foraging.


  2. Lee Chiu San

    Dear Amar, the banana leaf in your photograph has been cut in a manner typical of the work of the Banana Skipper (Erionota thrax), a member of the Hesperiidae. Though nominally classified as butterflies, some scientists feel that this family should have a classification of its own, somewhere between butterflies and moths.

    Banana Skippers fly in the evenings, and hover over flowers in the same way as Hawk Moths. They lay eggs on banana plants and are very prolific, with several generations per year. The young caterpillars start rolling leaves as soon as they are hatched.

    When young, they are light green, but as they get larger, they become covered with a white powder. This however can be brushed off to reveal the grey-green bodies underneath.

    They are relished by many species of birds, which, if they succeed in breaking open the rolled-up casings, knock off the white powder before swallowing the caterpillars. If they escape being eaten, manage to pupate and fly off, the empty, rolled-up cylinders are used as refuges by other insects. I have found spiders in many of them.


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