I have observed a number of Java Sparrows Padda oryzivora nesting in the past. Nests in Ipoh are usually located in the holes and crevices of the abundant limestone hills we have. One example can be found at this link (Amar 2016, https://besgroup.org/2016/04/20/java-sparrow-nesting/). I have on one occasion also observed a nest in a tree hole. The local Java Sparrow population appears to be thriving and I estimate more than 400 birds in the city based on mass roosting and feeding site observations.
On 26th May 2022 I observed a pair building a nest in a less common site – a wall drainage pipe that is possibly blocked (see image 1). What was also unusual was that the hole was located only 0.75 meters above the ground. Most nests I have seen previously are much higher up in limestone holes.
Islam (2021) describes (not in their native location) nests in the “under eaves of buildings, in horizontal pipes, unused electrical outlets, and other artificial crannies. Also in tree cavities and in palm trees; nests are built 1–18 m above ground”. Wells (2007) notes that nesting sites have included “under house roof tiles, in ventilation spaces, nooks and crannies of building masonry, among roof supports, cavities of a limestone cliff face, and in abandoned woodpecker holes; 4-17 meters up”.
The pair I observed was actively bringing nesting material, and the material I could be sure of was Geijera parviflora leaves (an Australian willow, commonly known as Wilga). Both partners were involved in collecting nesting material (see image 2 and 3).
In the past I have seen nesting material that includes:
- Bamboo leaves – a favourite nesting material.
- Geijera parviflora leaves (Wilga).
- Paspalum conjugatum (Buffalo/Hilo Grass).
- Other long trailing grasses.
- Discarded plastic strips.
- A colleague has seen them stealing material from Myna nests.
I have not been able to see the shape or size of any nest as they are always deep in the cavity. In this case the height and width (but not the length) of the nest can be inferred from the pipe diameter; assuming no deeper cavity within.
On this occasion I only saw two birds involved in nest construction. In the past I have observed helpers.
Nest Observation Disclosure:
I observed the nest twice on the same morning for brief periods of 20-30 minutes each. I kept 7-8 meters away and made sure the birds were comfortable with my presence (continued with nesting activities). I limited the number of images I took and no flash was used.
- Amar-Singh HSS (2016). Java Sparrow nesting. Bird Ecology Study Group. https://besgroup.org/2016/04/20/java-sparrow-nesting/
- Islam, K. (2021). Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.javspa.01.1
- Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passarines). Christopher Helm, London.
- Amar-Singh HSS (2018). Java Sparrow – nesting material. Bird Ecology Study Group. https://besgroup.org/2018/09/07/java-sparrow-nesting-material-2/
- Amar-Singh HSS (2017). Java Sparrow – nesting material. Bird Ecology Study Group. https://besgroup.org/2017/10/03/java-sparrow-nesting-material/
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
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