“We had an unusual experience yesterday. One of our neighbours brought over an injured Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala indica). We are generally not keen to take in injured birds because of the pain of losing some while caring for their recovering. But it was hard for my wife to refuse this Coppersmith Barbet. The barbet looked like it had suffered a concussion; possible impact into a tinted window. It had impaired consciousness, was ‘shivering’ and had erratic fast breathing. I instinctively told my wife it was female (I have no good evidence/reason for my opinion).
“A digression on images/photography: We were reluctant to take too many pictures or use much flash (it was late in the evening) because we know how traumatic repositioning and handling can be to an injured bird. So I took some quick face images without flash while my wife moved it to a better container (above, below: close up of the face of the adult female).
“We placed it in a basket, lined with the large leaves of the taro/keladi (Colocasia esculenta), to rest for the night, indoors. When we checked later, it had huddled into a corner, looking more rested. We however had heard the partner calling outside for some time, possibly searching for the mate. This pair are our delightful resident Coppersmith Barbet for the neighbourhood and often seen and heard.
“In the morning it had recovered considerably and we brought the basket out into the patio/garden for an early morning release. To our surprise it was reluctant to leave the basket, despite being able to. We tried to coax it out of the basket and finally had to gently tip the basket to encourage it out. Even then it stayed in the container (below).
“Only after some further verbal persuasion did the bird leave the basket. Even when leaving it only moved 1-2 meters away and remained there, reluctant to go further. It was only then that we looked back and were surprised to see an egg in the basket. We discussed options but there was no way to salvage this egg. And after some time, the bird flew to nearby bush and eventually left.
“As a paediatrician I am familiar with pregnant ladies delivering prematurely due to trauma. We suspect that this egg was delivered prematurely due to the trauma of the concussion. The egg is 26 mm x 17 mm in size and looks pale white and pink. It was translucent and we think the pink section is the embryo colour coming through (above).”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS & Datin Dr Swee-Im Lim
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
21-22nd February 2018
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment