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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Birds Nesting Habitat Selection Behaviour In Metropolitan Garden

The title sound technical. But i am not a bird expert. Not even a bird enthusiast. Only a nature lover. I noticed some very intriguing phenomena displayed by garden birds in my usual jogging place, particularly about their nesting sites selection.

Metropolitan Garden, Relau, Penang, located beside a residential area on one side and "forested area" (Rubber estate and durian orchard) on the other. It is a garden at "forest" edge with bright sunlight and greenery. There are many species of birds in this garden. Just to name some that i often see, various species of bulbul, sunbird, dove, kingfisher, barbet, oriole, robin, flycatcher, tailorbird, starling, myna, sparrow, malkoha, pigeon (jungle), drongo, dollarbird, etc.

This garden receives a lot of morning sun as its east (and south) are relatively lower than the hilly west and north. This is an ideal place for many insects and other small animals who need warmth in the morning to activate their system. These small creatures spelled "Food" to birds.

The abundance sunlight also encourage growth of various plants such as figs and berries which attract birds.

However, this is also a paradise for other medium size animals. Monitor lizard, civet cat, snake, squirrel, and occasionally, even domestic dogs and cats can be found in this garden since orchard and residential area are just in the adjacent. These animals pose very serious threats to birds here.

This garden also well equipped with recreational infrastructures and receives many visitors everyday. As a layman, i thought human presence associated with these infrastructures can negatively affects avian behaviour. To my great surprise, many birds there not only tolerated human presence, but in fact, has taken advantage of man as a positive physical environmental element for their survival and reproduction. You will see what i mean here.

I like this first example. Guess where i found this 2 lovely bulbul chicks.
The nest located right at the main entrance to the garden. 5 ft from ground level, at the hedge plant (See arrow below). This location receives highest human traffic everyday.

What about this munia nest?
There are quite a number of munia nests at different locations in this garden. This specific one situated right in the center of activity field, in a Christmas tree at eye level.

And this spiderhunter?
It hang down from a twig right on top of a walkway, only about 10 ft high. Children play underneath it everyday.

And this is quite an unusual bird to me, even though it could be common to birdwatchers, the Tickell's blue flycatcher.
See the mom feeds the baby. Where is the nest located?
Well, not far from where i do my sit-up and legs stretching. And it is at a height within hand reach.
A little story to tell about this Tickell's blue flycatcher nest. One day there was a monitor lizard roamed about searching for food. As it went near the nest, the Tickell's parents turned aggressive. The mom stood on a rock in between the lizard and the nest with warning calls. As the lizard is only 5 ft away and heading toward the nest, i stepped in (wrong thing to do huh? should have leave it to nature to take its course?). I moved toward them with stones in my hand. The lizard retreated, the Tickell's mom moved to a higher branch. I stayed just 10 ft in front of the nest to make sure the lizard is not returning. To my surprise, the Tickell's parents continued to feed the chick with my presence so near to the nest. Apparently they did not consider me as a threat!

There are many other birds nesting here. For example, i found this young fledgeling of white-vented myna.
It was perching on a tree branch in front of this worker on the jogging track. It didn't show any fear with my (and the worker) presence. Neither its parents showed any sign of agitation. (I didn't locate the nest, guess it must be just nearby).

Many other examples of nesting site location that associate closely with human presence.

I believed this is nothing new to bird enthusiasts. But to me, i am very much intrigued by how "intelligence" these garden birds are. In this garden, animals such as monitor lizard (plenty of them), squirrel (especially during durian seasons), snake, civet cat and probably other predatory birds are more significant threats to them. Human is no longer a threat. In fact, the shy nature of these predating animals (toward human being) has somehow instinctively sensed by these garden birds. The nesting sites selection are done carefully with safety in mind, and human being is one of the important safety elements.
We, human rear dogs to take care of our home. These garden birds make use of us to take care of theirs!