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Paddyfield Pipit – nest building

on 17th May 2016

PipitPdf-f [AmarSingh] 1

“While out observing insects I also spotted a pair of Paddyfield Pipits (Anthus rufulus malayensis) building a nest. They were using the recently trimmed, overgrown garden of an old run down property. The grounds were mainly covered with Imperata cylindrical (Lalang) regrowth and grass. I hope they make it as it looks like the caretakers cut the undergrowth periodically.

“Some observation made over 1.5 hours of observation:

1. I observed only one bird building the nest, presumed female, with nesting material (top).

PipitPdf [AmarSingh] 2

2. The female collects mainly dried grass (Imperata cylindrical) but occasional roots and fresh stems of grass (above).

3. Collection was about 10-20 metres from the nest. But I noticed that, when I was perceived as ‘threat,’ the bird would fly across a road and collect from further afield.

4. The presumed female has a curious tail swagger that I observed a number of times. Often, but not always, occurring just before taking off with nesting material for the nesting site (see video above).

PipitPdf-m sentry [AmarSingh] 2

5. The partner, presumed male, has the function of ‘perimeter’ or security detail. It usually walked around feeding or hunkered/crouched down in the grass watching for threats (above).

6. I observed 4 episodes where a ‘rival’ male (presumed) pipit came to the grounds and was vigorously chased off by the presumed male. In one episode with physical contact during a fast aerial pursuit.

7. The presumed male will also make frequent ‘contact’ calls with the bird collecting the nesting material. I suppose these are to indicate safety or danger.

PipitPdf- sham nest [AmarSingh] 4

8. The male (presumed) will also indulge in sham nest building when it perceives that there is some threat. On one occasion when it spotted me being too intent in watching it picked up a long stand of dried Imperata grass and walked about prominently to attract my attention (above – and notice the sharp look at me from a distance). Generally such along piece of grass is not used but it served the purpose of distracting me from the female.

“The video is a composite of a number of nest material collecting episodes and also shows the tail swagger. Video taken with Nikon COOLPIX P900 at 40 meters.

PipitPdf-nest [AmarSingh] 5

“Image of the nest that is being built is shown above.

“Took the opportunity when both birds left the field for a short time to have a quick look. They returned to building soon after.

PipitPdf-m nest site [AmarSingh] 6

“Overview of nesting location with one bird ‘dropping down’ to nest site (above).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment with some abandoned overgrown properties
Date: 29th January 2016

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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