© Nesting Common Tailorbirds – One Full Circle Part 9

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Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9: Chicks – welfare and monitoring.

“Hatching of chicks came on 6th May 2019 when female parent-Satori was first observed flying into nest with food-egg offering (below).

“Otto – the male Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) meanwhile kept watch and gave out somewhat a food introduction by way of conditioning calls to chicks (below).

“Chick monitoring is a delicate and critical phase in breeding of birds. While nature knows best what is to eliminate and correct any imbalance in order to keep species alive, human intervention – be it of curiosity, ignorance or good intentions, at times can be their worst, destructive enemies.

“For the benefit of new citizen scientists, fresh birdwatchers/photographers keen to learn and be disciplined in the art of monitoring hatchings, I share my personal joy and experience monitoring nestlings of Otto and Satori-pair of Common Tailorbirds.

“These birds were guests to my humble abode – the privacy of my home. For about two weeks continuously, parental feeding was carried out, full time from dawn to dusk by Otto and Satori.

“Intensity came in the mornings and evenings. Frequencies of food arrivals were inconsistent, ranging from two minutes to 15 minutes intervals, to about 30 minutes during lull period.

“Interruption in parental feeding is often caused by the presence of predators, too near for their comfort to nest approach, any situation that betrays their secret nesting site or brood losses to poachers.

“In the presence of such, feeding would come to a halt until danger passes. Waiting out period under such circumstances will have hatchings go hungry and starved to death if further prolonged. Parenting birds will also be unduly stressed and abandonment of nest cannot be excluded.

“The secret of skilful and successful monitoring is the discerning ability to observe and be capable of photographing quietly without one’s presence known to parenting birds.

“This is quite a challenge for budding observers and photographers but is possible by embracing strategy, self-discipline and quiet.

“It is also vital to protect hatchings by not exposing their hidden existence to danger. Responsible and discerning bird photographers will be disciplined enough not to be revealing nesting sites, be touching, trimming obscuring foliages or any obstruction that would enhance ‘shooter’ that perfect view shot.

“Photographing nesting sites with hatchings are best carried out alone and not in a social group. They are not inanimate objects but living things of sensitive nature – in their moments of procreation – in their little world they share.

“A good measure of respect surely they deserve considering the countless trips in nest building and sorties of foods they bring to nourish their young, while at same time having to be weary of predators – the most… homo sapiens.

“Monitoring and documentation of nestling birds as such, may not be suitable or easy take for every photographer and best left to scientists, researchers, passionate and responsible citizen scientists and the likes in the study of ornithology in a serious way.

“I am a reluctant, monitoring observer-bird photographer of nestlings. It is stressful, time consuming and often back breaking to be patiently sitting incognito. As I am not in pursuit for papers in ornithology, nor be touching birds and counting feathers, I see no necessity to get close to chicks, peep for sheer curiosity and take lucky shots to chalk up a bird gallery, like a hobby in stamp collecting.

“Bearing in mind, my unnecessary presence would have me, an additional predator to birds – Otto and Satori. As such, minimum close up checks on hatchings were only made very necessary, during small window periods, whilst parenting birds were absent at nest site.

“First chick inspection came on 9th May, 19h14, 3 days after eggs hatched.

“It was best opportunity time as all feeding done for the day and by dusk, chicks have settled. A quick hand shot with digital camera was taken with NO flash (above).

“Upon confirmation chicks settled and eyelids remained sealed, a torch light used and beamed indirectly at chicks. Time recorded – 19h15, 9th May (above).

Second inspection came 16h55, 11th May; two days later when small window opportunity was had. Three viable chicks noted to be well, awoke with eyelids remained sealed (above).

“Third inspection was made at 12h15, 13th May.

“Readers would have noticed inspection time moved to daytime for natural sunlight. Flash-light not used in the anticipation, chicks would be ready to show delicate eyes. Hard, continuous flash lighting onto eyes is detrimental to eyesight and risk blindness.

“The sun was high upright and direct glare from sunrays was protected by foliage of nest, weaved by female bird Satori. Chicks ‘eyelids were observed to be partially opened on 5th day. All chicks wore a spiky look (below).

“At this juncture of picture viewing, bird photographers would have been quick to notice; straw of nesting material placed over nest by parenting bird, remained since nest completion.

“Photographers zealous for perfect, clear shots would be quick to make comment: ‘Ah… what a waste…an obstruction” and itched to have it removed.
But… not under my watch. IT REMAINED.

“Why was I confident not to check on chicks daily? Simple answer- is common sense. Parenting birds seen flying with prey-foods to nest and removing faecal sacs in steady momentum suggested chicks alive and well.

“Fourthh inspection at 13h27, 14th May carried out during lull period showed chicks with down feathers and eyelids have fully opened (below).

“Fifth inspection came 20h04pm, 15th May – four days prior fledging date.

“Readers will notice flashlight was carefully directed onto spot away from nest, providing just sufficient light for night-time, chick.

“First moult of down feathers had begun (below).

“Sixth inspection at 09h15, 16th May showed clearer picture of further feather transformation under morning light (below).

“Seventh inspection came at 07h54, 17th May. It showed an 11-day old chick – Osai1 crouched on top of Osai2 and Osai3. Suspecting to be the oldest chick – Osai1, it was spotted bathing in morning sunlight with first down feathers mostly replaced (below).

“One minute later at 07h55am, light rays appeared to have shifted. Osai1 somewhat pretended sleep, but positioned self to best advantage and awaited breakfast arrivals of ‘me first’ feeds (below).

“Final inspection came at 19h15, 17th May. It confirmed all chicks fed and settled in (below).

“The rest will be documented under ‘monitoring parenting activities’ via DGscope and will be shared in Part 10 and beyond…

AVIAN WRITER DAISY O’NEILL
PENANG MALAYSIA
25th August 2019

COPY OF COPYRIGHT ARTICLE AND ALL MAGES COURTESY OF DAISY O’NEILL BIRD CONSERVATION FUND

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