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Nesting Pygmy Cupwing

on 7th May 2022

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

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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