The Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) that was passed on to me by Lin Yangchen on 21st February 2008 spent a quiet night in its cardboard box. It made soft chirping sounds when I opened the cover of the box the next morning.
Initially widening its gape reluctantly, it did so without persuasion as it was hungry. It was fed mashed bread in water and pieces of banana. Small lumps needed to be directed into the gape before the chick swallowed them. Pieces of mashed fish were also given. It made minimum sound when fed.
As it developed, the chick was more responsive, making more sounds and opening its bill when food was offered (left). It began to grab at the food offered when placed in the centre of the gape, rather than passively allowing the food to drop in.
Usually, it accepted two to three offerings of food at a time, after which it will not accept more. It needs to be fed regularly and often.
As it grew, it made more sounds and moved about inside the box. It also responded when I approached, making chirping sounds, asking to be fed.
Four days after rescue (X+4, X=21st February), the chick began to stand upright and hopped around a bit when places on the grassy ground. It was also seen preening its feathers along the sides of the belly.
The colour differential began to develop. The juvenal feathers around the nape became darker grey than those around the flanks (right). The wings, other than those feathers showing white, were distinctly black.
On the morning of day X+5, the chick began to preen its wing feathers and scratched its head. It was also seen stretching its wings as well as flapping them.
This was the first time I noticed how it slept. Supporting itself on its tarsi and rump, it placed its head on one side of its shoulder, raised its lower eyelids to close the eyes and then went to sleep (right bottom). It also slept by resting its entire body on the ground, the head similarly touching the ground and wings slightly unfolded (right). The legs were still not totally strong enough for the bird to stand most of the time.
On day X+6, the chick made louder noises in the morning from inside the box, obviously begging for food. It also flapped its wings vigorously. Unlike previously when anything that was placed into the throat was swallowed, this time the food offered, even when placed inside the throat, was first subjected to a vigorous shake of the head resulting in most being flicked away.
On day X+7, the chick was standing more, even hopping about more. With time the legs got stronger and it was able to stand most of the time. The image below (left), showing the chick supporting itself on its pair of tarsi, was taken on day X+5. That on the right, taken on day X+11, shows it standing upright.
The bird had the habit of turning around to defecate. This happened after taking a few mouthfuls of food. It would turn around, its back facing me, and defecate. Initially puzzled, I later realised that this is what it will do inside the nest.
The chick would be fed from outside the nest and the chick needs to turn around to force its faecal matters from its vent out of the nest. After all, it is not wise to pollute the nest as this will attract predators.