Chestnut-winged Babbler – nest building

on 22nd May 2017

“I was walking along a trail in primary jungle when this Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera erythroptera) hopped into the nest about 5 meters in front of me.

“I stopped and dropped to the ground, and the birds continued to build the nest despite being aware of my presence. I decided to remain there and watch. I did not go back for a tripod/video equipment as I felt it would disturb the birds.

BabblerChWgd-nest build [AmarSingh] 1

“The nest was being built about 2.5 meters above the ground in a bamboo thicket. The birds were using a large dead leave that had fallen and lodged on the bamboo. The leave belonged to a Giant Macaranga tree.

BabblerChWgd-nest build [AmarSingh] 2

“The nesting material they were using was predominantly dead bamboo leaves and occasional leaf skeletons/spines of leaves. Nesting material was often collected some distance from the nest site.

“Building was a fast activity and the frequency of visits was 2 per minute, with often one bird waiting for the other to clear the nest before going in.

BabblerChWgd-nest build [AmarSingh] 3

“As far as I could ascertain there were only 2 birds involved in the nest building and the work was fairly equally shared. No calls were made while nest building. The nest was still at the early stages of development.

BabblerChWgd-nest build [AmarSingh] 4

“I was concerned with their choice of nesting site for two reasons. One it was on a fairly busy trail for walkers and the birds could easily be spotted when moving (the nest itself could not be easily spotted). More importantly their choice of nesting leave was poor as I could see the nesting material falling out occasionally, even as they put more in. I expect the nest to fail.

BabblerChWgd-nest build [AmarSingh] 5

“I watched for ~15 minutes and then decided to leave so as to give the birds the space needed. Before leaving I attempted a short handheld video using a rock as support for the lens. Not easy as I was already lying on the ground, but I managed some nesting episodes (hard to focus, so not that clear; fortunately for tilt screens on the newer DSLRs). The video was taken when the nest was already looking like it would fail and the birds were becoming aware of this.

“Update: I returned 1 week later and as expected the site is abandoned and this nest has failed. Looking for a new nest is quite a tall order in a wet jungle with extensive leaf litter.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
30th April 2017

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Trail in primary jungle

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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