I was on a trail in Cameron Highlands on 25th April 2022, when I inadvertently came across a pair of Pygmy Cupwing (Pnoepyga pusilla) nesting. I kept my observations and time with them very brief. Some useful observations.
I first noticed one bird carrying prey for young immediately in front of me on the trail floor (above). The bird froze and then moved away from me into the undergrowth. The partner then chose a vantage point and worked to attract my attention by using wing flicking (below).
Note: Wing Flicking is a single or series of rapid wing extensions upwards or to the side that are brought back immediately. The bird does not fly, the activity is rapid and the wings are not kept extended. Occasionally only one wing is ‘flicked’. Some call this ‘wing fluttering’ ‘or ‘wing twitching’ but ‘wing flicking’ is the best description and found in avian literature. It has been suggested that one use of wing flicking is as a distraction method for potential nest predators.
I realised I was very close to the nesting site and moved along the trail, nearer to the ‘wing flicking’ adult, who was also carrying prey for the young. This bird continued to appear and disappear into the foliage, always appearing to make sure I had spotted it by intermittent wing flicking; allowing a very close approach (above). The other bird was then able to work around me to get to the nesting site.
The wing flicking adult also made intermittent soft single calls every 2-3 seconds that I believe were not directed at me but to the partner. I have not heard this call type before and not seen it in the literature. Call recording here: https://xeno-canto.org/719741
There were numerous prey seen in the beaks of both birds and included small field crickets, woodlouse, larvae and other insects (limited recording of prey for this species).
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia