The Rufous Treepie

The rufous treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) is a treepie belongs to crow famil Corvidae, native to the Indian Subcontinent and adjoining parts of Southeast Asia. Rufous Treepie has long tailed, with loud musical calls making it very conspicuous. The size of Rufous treepie is between somewhere 45 to 55 cm including the tail. The Weight of adult bird is between 80 g. to 140 g. The bird normally found in open scrub, agricultural areas, forests as well as urban gardens. However, it is very adaptable, omnivorous and opportunistic in feeding. Male and female are very similar but only main color of the body is cinnamon with a black head and the long graduated tail is bluish grey and is tipped in black with the wing has a white patch. The only confusable species is the grey treepie which though lacks the bright rufous mantle. The bill is stout with a hooked tip, and underparts and lower back are a warm tawny-brown to orange-brown in color with white wing coverts and black primaries.
Moreover, the bill legs and feet are black. This is very noisy bird with great agility can be seen in urban parks and large gardens. This species is visible mainly in lowlands, and usually below 1000 metres, but according to the range, it can be found up to 2100 metres of elevation. A local name for this bird kotri is derived from the typical call while other names include Handi Chancha and taka chor "coin thief". This species has a wide repertoire of calls, but a bob-o-link or ko-tree call is most common. Alike to Eurasian magpie in the United Kingdom, it appears that being highly intelligent and an opportunistic feeder has been a recipe for success in the treepie’s ability to live alongside humans. The Rufous Treepie has distinctive dipping flight during which each dip ends in upwards jerk. The flight is undulating a swift noisy flapping, followed by a short glide on outspread wings and tail.
The Tree-Pies are arboreal omnivorous, and they feed on Insects, caterpillars, lizards, frogs, centipedes, young birds, small birds, rodents, bats, snakes, frogs, lizards, Fruits both wild and cultivated are eaten. Moreover, they are notorious to feed on the fruits of Trichosanthes tricuspidata which are toxic to mammals. They also hunt systematically for birds’ nests and are highly destructive to the eggs and young of the smaller species. The bird has also been known to take flesh from recently killed carcasses. Normally the breeding season starts in March till June. The nest is built in trees and bushes and is habitually a shallow platform. The nest consist usually 3 to 5 eggs laid. The inner cup is lined with rootlets and small twigs. It is placed at about 5 to 8 meters above the ground in isolated or prominent tree or in bush. Both sexes share in building, incubation and care of the young.The range of this bird is quite large, covering all of mainland India up to the Himalayas, Pakistan and southeasterly in a broad band into Bangladesh, Burma Laos, and Thailand in open forest consisting of scrub, plantations and gardens.
The bird is widespread populations show variations and numerous subspecies are recognized. The nominate subspecies is found in the northeastern part of peninsular India south to Hyderabad. The desert form is paler and called pallida, vernayi of the Eastern Ghats is brighter while parvula of the Western Ghats is smaller in size. The form in Pakistan and Afghanistan is bristoli while the form in southern Thailand is saturatior. E C Stuart Baker describes sclateri from the upper Chindwin to the Chin Hills and kinneari from souther Myanmar and northwest Thailand. The bird is an agile forager, clinging and clambering through the branches and sometimes joining mixed hunting parties along with species such as drongos and babblers.
The Rufous Treepie has been observed feeding on ecto-parasites of wild deer. Like many other corvids they are recognized to cache food. They have been considered to be helpful to palm cultivation in southern India due to their foraging on the grubs of the destructive weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. The Rufous treepie is not the most remarkable, the grandest or the most ornate. But it is a lovely and confident little bird. The Rufous Treepie is usually common and widespread in its range except in Vietnam where it is more local and uncommon. So many thanks to the large quantity of insects that it consumes, hence it is not considered a pest in spite of some damage caused to orchards and cereal crops. The species is not at present threatened.


Red Breasted Robin: Friendly Garden Visitors

Robin or “Erithacus rubecula” is a redbreast 14cm from beak to tip of tail 5 to 9cm high bird. The robin enjoys popularity with man unrivalled by any other species. A familiar visitor at the bird table in winter and constant gardening companion, even nesting in the tool shed, it is a year round bird. This is close to association with man is a special feature of the robin’s relationship with the British. Robins of exactly the same species nest over most  of Europe, but a tendency on the continent to shoot and eat small birds has made robins there generally shy and retiring woodland birds. The robin is a particular favorite among bird lovers; everyone enjoys the attentions of this familiar redbreast in the garden during winter. But despite all the efforts made to feed this bird in the harsh weather, thousands perish each year.
The bird’s popularity in Britain has built up over the years and legends about the bad luck incurred by anyone harming a robin go back to 16th century. A Christian link has been attached to the legends because the robin’s red breast was supposedly stained by blood after the bird had been pricked in old books. The adult bird get together as pairs in early January. As they look exactly alike, the sexes can only recognize each other by display and posture. An unmated male singing loudly in his territory will, at first behaves aggressively to any intruding robin.
If the intruder is a male it either retreats or tries to oust the occupier. If the new bird is a female seeking a mate she persists in approaching the resident male, apparently unimpressed by his threats. Over a period of some hours, sometimes as much as two days, the bond between the two is built up so that they accept each other. In several species this pair bounding is directly followed by nest building and egg lying. With the robin, pairing is accomplished weeks or even months before any nesting attempt is made. During this time the birds occupy the same territory and recognize each other as mates but do not pay much attention to each other.
As the weather improves the hen bird starts to build her nest, using moss and dead leaves and lining it with hair.  In the natural state she may choose a rocky crevice or hollow of a tree, most often, a bank or an ivy-covered tree usually well concealed and difficult to find. However some robins select the most likely sites. One nest was found in a chest of drawers in a tool-shed. The drawer was held closed and the nest at the back was only discovered when the drawer was opened.
Moreover, when she starts to build the nest the female also starts to receive food from the male. This so-called courtship feeding was initially thought to be a ritual designed to reinforce the pair bond between male and female. In fact it is an important source of food for the female one that she almost completely relies upon during incubation. The clutch of white eggs with pale reddish freckling is laid, one egg each day, and the complete clutch is generally 5 to 6 eggs, although up to nine have been recorded. Robins are well famous for making their nests in such unlikely places as kettles, old buckets even the pockets of jackets left in garden sheds. The incubating female loses the feather from her breast and belly and the blood vessels just under the skin enlarge greatly. The bare skin and increased blood supply allow her to transfer heart more efficiently to the eggs.
After two weeks the eggs hatch out and the blind chicks, covered in thin dark down, increasingly dominate the parent’s lives with their enormous appetites. Both adult and young robins feed on insects, spiders and worms. They do not generally eat seeds or berries. About 15 days after hatching these young robins now weighing more than their parents, leave the nest. Two particularly attentive parents were reported by naturalist David Lack. They built their nest in a cart which had to go on a 200 mile round trip just after the young hatched. Undaunted, the adult birds accompanied their off spring, feeding them on the way.
Therefore, when the young birds leave the nest they face two or three days of great danger since they cannot yet fly well. At this stage they have a soft speckled brown plumage with no trace of their parents, red breast. By the beginning of June they start to lose their body feathers and to develop their red breasts growing from the bottom upwards. The wings do not moult but continue to develop until July of the next year when they reach their full size. In its first year, the robin has a one in six chance of survival. Once reach the maturity they proudly displaying its red breast and singing its rich spring song, lays claim to its territory and warns off other birds.
Moreover, once the young are fledged the adult build new nest within the same territory and, unless they are prevented for any reason disturbance by a cat, flooding of the nest in bad weather or thoughtless hedge-cutting, will raise another brood in May. During the summer season for a period of five weeks the adult robins replace their old feathers with new ones they stay in the same area, but make themselves less obvious and less active, concealed in shrubberies and thickets. During this moult the adult robins also fall silent the only time of the year when the robin song is not a feature of countryside.  
As the second brood of young birds acquires its red plumage and the adult birds their replacement plumage, the autumn song starts up. The rich and fruity spring song of the males gives way to the thinner, more piping song of young and old, cock and hen, as each claims its own territory; this is kept with a few local alterations, through the winter until pairing takes place. In times of real food shortage, territoriality breaks down as all the birds concentrate on feedings. Robin migrate each autumn, most stay within a mile or two of their birthplace. So what happened to all these robins? If each pair of adults raises two broods with 5 to 6 young in each, there are six times as many robins at the end of the breeding season as at the start.
A single pair would become almost ten million pairs at the end of 10 years about twice the total of British population of Robins. In fact the majority of them die. As many as a million robins may be killed by cats; while owls, cars, plate glass windows and harsh winters also take their toll. Sadly but naturally of the original pair and their off spring on average only one adult and one youngster survive to breed the following year. Harsh winter weather often provides the greatest danger so millions of people who feed birds leave out all sorts of tidbits even mine meat and grated cheese to ensure that their robins are the ones to survive. This feeding also encourages the robins to stay in backyards and gardens.
Almost all birds are territorial. It is generally during the breeding season that teaches bird defends a home area, and will not tolerate any bird of the same species apart from its male within its territory. Robins are no exception, and like other song birds such as blackbirds and song thrushes they stake but quite large claims by their presence at strategic song posts. Other birds restrict themselves to much smaller areas gannets, for instance, only defend the immediate nest area.
Moreover, the blackbird singing full of joys in spring seasons, but much more important to itself and other blackbirds. It is saying, this part of my territory keep off, if the message is not understood it may still have to chase off the encroaching birds a sight often seen when disputing birds dart at each other along a lawn or hedgerow without actually making contact. It is both these aggressive fluttering and song patterns that prevent actual fighting unless large numbers of birds are competing for a very small territory.


The Mystery Bird “Yellow-Billed Oxpecker”

The yellow-billed oxpecker “Buphagus africanus” is a beautiful passerine bird in the starling and myna family, Sturnidae. The name “oxpecker” is related to their habit of perching on large wild and domestic mammals. The yellow-billed oxpecker is 20 cm long and has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. In a day an adult bird will take more than 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks or 13,000 larvae. It frequently occurs in association with wild and domestic large mammals. The species often roosts in trees close to these animals, or even on buffaloes’ back at night. The Yellow-billed oxpeckers live in small flocks and can be found at sea-level or in mountains as high as 9,800 feet. These African mystery birds are engaged in a rare behavior, even nesting on the back of a live Cape buffalo.

Some ornithologists regard the oxpeckers to be a separate family, the Buphagidae. It is least common in the extreme east of its range where it overlaps with the red-billed oxpecker, despite always leading that species when feeding. The family Buphagidae includes only two species, the Yellow-billed Oxpecker and the Red-billed Oxpecker. They remove the ticks from these animals, but in spite of destroying parasites, the farmers often dislike them. The species habitually built nests in tree holes lined with hair plucked from livestock. The breeding season varies according to the range, but it is closely linked to the rainfall. Moreover, during the breeding season, courtship and copulation every so often occur on the host animal. However, aerial courtship displays are reported, during which the bird circles in the air while calling. They are monogamous and co-operative breeders with helpers.

The bird lays 2 to 3 eggs, and outside the breeding season it is fairly gregarious, forming large, chattering flocks. The incubation lasts 13 days or more and is usually shared by both adults. The chicks are fed both by parents and helpers. They fledge about 25 days after hatching. Non-breeding birds will roost on their host animals at night. The yellow-billed oxpeckers eat insects and ticks taken from the skin of large mammals. Therefore, both the English and scientific names arise from this species' habit of perching on large wild and domesticated mammals such as cattle and eating arthropod parasites. It will also perch on antelopes such as wildebeest. However, their preferred food is blood, and while they may take ticks bloated with blood, they also feed on it directly, pecking at the mammal's wounds until blood flows. Whatever the net result, mammals generally tolerate oxpeckers. It may also glean blood and mucus from long hair, or drink blood from wounds. 

The species feet are very strong. The adult bird bills are yellow at the base and red at the tip, while juveniles have brown bills. Its flight is robust and direct with a hissy, crackling krisss, krisss call. This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. It is present in many protected areas, and the species is not presently threatened, in spite of reduction of parasites due to pesticides and livestock control. Moreover, by 1897, they were completely extinct in South Africa, but 82 years later yellow-billed oxpeckers miraculously returned to the Kruger National Park.

Although little is known about these tick-loving birds, one researcher is determined to find out more. The Yellow-Billed Oxpecker is native to African countries like, Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe. It generally prefers open savanna woodland, as it uses the large mammal inhabitants as sources of ticks and other ectoparasites.

Luzon Bleeding-Heart Dove

The Luzon bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) is a very cautious and enigmatic species of dove mainly endemic to the island of Luzon in Philippines. The Luzon is called "bleeding-hearts" is the species in which the "blood" feature is most pronounced, run down the bird's breast. The Luzon got its rare name from a splash of vivid red on their white breasts which look like a bleeding wound. The Luzon island in the Philippines on which the Luzon bleeding-heart is most abundant However, the reddish hue spreads down the belly furthering the illusion of blood having run down the bird's front. The red patch is somewhat brighter in males. When courting, the male inflates his breast to emphasize the red spot. The Luzon bleeding-heart is a very fearful bird and hard to observe in their natural habitat.

They are found in three islands in the northern Philippines, including Luzon, where there are many isolated populations, and in the island of Polillo, where a very small population has recently been rediscovered. It has a local name of puñalada. They are found in areas that have dense vegetation, lowland and tropical forests and even been known to live near agricultural plantations. The Luzon bleeding-heart can often be heard repeating a soft ‘aa-oooot’ call every three or four seconds. The call lasts for about one second and rises in pitch towards the end. Moreover, short tailed and long legged, these entirely terrestrial birds have light blue-gray wings and heads with blackish bills, but because their feathers are iridescent, it can appear to be purple, royal blue, or bottle-green, and the apparent color varies with lighting conditions.

The wing coverts are marked with three dark red-brown bands. Their throat, breast and under parts are white, and lighter pink feathers surround the red patch on the breast. The male and female Luzon bleeding-hearts are very similar in appearance and hard to tell apart. The Luzon bleeding-heart dove passes most of the time on the forest floor foraging for seeds, fallen fruits and small insects among the leaf litter. It leaves the ground and flies to trees only for resting and sleeping. The species normally built nest on low trees or in bushes and creeping plants, not very far from the ground. Miserably, the bird is undergoing a moderate decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, caused by deforestation for timber and the expansion of agriculture. Furthermore, the bird is vulnerable to hunting and is often trapped by the locals to use as pet.

Blue-throated Barbet

The magical blue-throated barbet is an Asian barbet having bright green, blue & red plumage, seen across the India, Northeast Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Southwest China, Thailand, central Laos, north Annam and Vietnam. Blue-throated barbet is a small green bird with a blue head and throat. It has a red crown and lores, bordered in black, in between the black and red lores, there is a thin tan line. Its tail is green while its beak his ivory (horn-coloured) and the upper mandible are tipped in blackish grey. Its under-tail coverts are a bluish-grey. Its eyes are brown. The blue-throated barbet “Psilopogon asiaticus” and toucans are a group of near passerine birds with a worldwide tropical distribution.

The species get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. The bird size is 22–23 cm; 61–103 g like to eats figs, flowers, berries and insects such as grubs, crickets, mantises, ants, cicadas, dragonflies, locusts, beetles and moths.. They are widespread residents in the hills of Himalayas. These blue-throated barbet species are non-migratory resident birds. The birds in higher altitudes may descent to lower levels during winter. They frequent evergreen forests, deciduous forests, gardens, orchards, teak forests and cities with fruiting trees. The turquoise-throated barbet was formerly considered a subspecies. Males and females look alike. Young birds have an overall duller plumage.  The species breeding season normally starts in March and goes on until July.

The bird’s courtship behavior consists of mutual feeding, and paired birds will ‘duet’ and display. Both parents habitually excavate a nest hole about 1.5 m to more than 8 m above the ground, every so often on the underside of a dead branch. They line their nest with grasses, wool or plant materials.  It is alike to other members of Psilopogon, closely related to Moustached Barbet and also related to Golden-throated Barbet, P. franklinii and Black-browed Barbet, P. oorti. The average clutch consists of 2 to 5 white, oval, slightly glossed and thin-shelled eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 14 days. Both parents also share in raising the chicks once they have hatched. The young are believed to fledge when they are about 30 to 40 days old. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion.

Banded Broadbill,

The banded broadbill “Eurylaimus javanicus”It is found in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The bird’s natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The species is a husky, forest-dwelling bird with a large head and a wide bill is atoned in purplish, black and yellow hues. It has a large purplish-black band across its chest, bluish-grey eyes have various yellow spots on its wings and some yellow on its rump. The birds prefer swamp forest, evergreen and mixed deciduous forest near rivers and streams on plantations, in gardens and parks, and around villages.
The species is a large broadbill average 21.5–23 cm, with purple, yellow and black plumage. The diet consist of eats predominantly insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, various beetles, caterpillars, larvae also recorded eating figs. The specie naturally builds a large nest suspended from a tree branch. The bird’s voice is typical song a far-carrying, brief, sharp “wheeoo” continuing with a long, ascending trill that may last up to five seconds. The Banded Broadbill is alike to the Black-and-yellow Broadbill, except that it's mostly atoned in black and peach, not purple.
The species is evaluated as least concern, because it has an extremely large range, hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion.  This species may be rarely targeted for the cagebird trade, some forest loss within its altitudinal range, especially around Carita, and including at the lower edges of protected areas. The bird naturally sits motionlessly in the trees, in small groups or pairs and scan for moving prey. When they spot something, habitually in the foliage, they fly out to grab it