Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dedicated little birdie

This pic is a juvenile tailor bird. The adults have a red cap or red cheeks. It is quite common in Singapore. Still adorable.
June 2008
These two weeks or so, I have been really lucky to observe a tailor bird rearing her little chicks. There were two of them in the cup-shaped nest with fluff and small twigs on my nonni plant. This plant has the unique big leaves that this species loves to use. At first she just dove in and out of the other plants whenever we came close. Thinking it was just a sparrow, I did not pay much attention. But soon she began calling out for attention more, bouncing up and down outside my window ledge. I watched her in fascination, her long whip tail lashing excitedly, red spotted head, black stripes across the cheeks, emitting a continuous ‘cheep-chweep’sound. This is my first time bird-watching and I did not know she was a tailor bird until I confirmed on the Internet.

I only discovered she had a nest when I bumped into the plant. There was a hissing sound. Upon closer examination, the nest was actually well sewn onto one leaf at the back. It was not obvious to us as three other leaves shaded it. Such a clever tactic! When I lifted up the leaf, the two babies peered out with beady bright eyes, their beaks with yellow spots. In other birds’ nestlings, spots are to help the mother identify them.

I checked on them everyday. This had to be cautious, otherwise the mother tailor bird would scold me loudly if she wanted to feed them. She has always tried to distract me by leading in an opposite direction, chirping away, or flying off with worms in her beak. The chicks grew very fast. I think I have only seen them recently, they were born earlier. Soon they were covered in down. On Saturday, they were active and no longer afraid of me peeping in.

Sunday, May 4, was the last day. My mother noticed that they were exercising and almost out of the nest on Monday. The mother was very agitated, seeming to urge them to take off quickly. I saw three birds similar to her hop out onto my other plants, cocking their heads. They were still trying to stand properly and flitted about. She bounced in front of me, calling. After some singing, they all took off. I felt kind of sad when I peeked in the empty nest. It confirmed they had grown up.

I was glad I had taken some pictures of the mother. However my camera’s resolution is not strong enough to capture these dwarves up close and personally. I wished I had managed to snap a picture of the chicks coming out. They will be safe from cats, which are common along the corridor. When I exercised at the mango trees near my block, I heard them first before seeing them. I think they live there, so I can catch a glimpse every now and them.

Hope they will come back next time, I shall preserve the nest.

By: Monica Loo, subscriber to Nature Watch
Like animals very much and collect pictures of them.