Tuesday, May 15

nests galore on campus

after 5 consecutive guided birdwalks in school for ron's/mishi's/pau's ecology classes, i am officially guided trip-ed out!  

one of the good things that came out of the trips is that adri and i (joined by jops and maia on friday afternoon and manny i, whose daughter was one of our students, on saturday morning: super thanks!), with the help of the  others, were able to observe and document several nesting birds on campus! it was great because it made the back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back guided trips much easier! first, because it was almost as if we guaranteed sightings of the birds at specific places and second, even non-birders could not resist the wonder of an adult bird feeding its helpless young on a carefully constructed nest.

the first nest is a long-tailed shrike's nest which jops had spotted a week before on a bird & tree walk for the ateneo community. it was a walk jointly  facilitated by the wbcp and the pnpcsi.  the shrike's nest was very well hidden behind the leaves of a mahogany tree, right by the sidewalk of a very busy road!  the nest was cup-shaped made of loosely woven grassy material.  it was easy to point out because the shrikes also made use of a long piece of plastic straw, and it hung from the branches making a convenient marker.  the nest base looked like it made use of other discarded plastic packaging also.  

the young shrike looked like it was ready to fledge any day. its parents patrolled the nearby field, returning regularly to the nest to feed the lone chick.  on another nearby mahogany, we spotted another nest several meters up which looked like an old shrike nest.

a few meters away across the field, another long-tailed shrike pair was busy feeding an older shrike, already fledged from the nest. the shrikes in my office parking lot had also just recently successfully fledged. needless to say, the long-tailed shrike is a guarantee on campus.  they're literally EVERYWHERE.

the second nest is a black-naped oriole nest, a wonderful find because the bright yellow oriole never fails to elicit the oohs and aahs (plus the "may ganyan palang ibon dito?" comment) from the participants. this one was waaaaaay high up in a rain tree. 

it's a fairly largish nest, and with bright yellow birds returning to it every few minutes, it's hard to miss once you know it's there and what to look fro (and if you look up of course). the parents were busy feeding two young birds. the birds still had a lot of their feathers sheathed and their heads were still featherless, but once we observed one of them perched confidently on a branch above the nest, preening itself for several minutes in-between feedings.

the nest was made of leaves and twigs and other plant material.  long strips of dried material was used to weave the nest on to the supporting branch, making it very sturdy despite its height up the tree and the wind blowing the branches violently from time to time.

the parents left the area for only a few minutes at a time, and it was interesting to note that they were especially aggressive to a collared kingfisher which would come and call loudly from time to time. they would arrive on the scene as soon as the kingfisher would start calling and upon locating it, would chase it away (listen for this at around 2:10)!

the students were also amused to observe the confrontation between the orioles and a pair of pied fantails. the birds chased and dove at each other in the high canopy with much energy and display of maneuverability.  david versus goliath one student mentioned.

at a much smaller tree beside the the huge one with the oriole's nest, we also spotted an old, used nest, placed in a pretty open spot. by the looks and material of it (notice the plastic again), it must be a recent long-tailed shrike's nest.  there were at least two adults in the vicinity. (need i emphasize again that these shrikes are everywhere on campus?)

saturday morning was our 5th and last trip.  the birdwalks were getting shorter and shorter as we now knew where the birds would be.  on our way to the oriole's nest, manny made another nest discovery!  just by the driveway, on a small tree (this time i'm not sure what species of tree this was), he had spotted a golden-bellied fly-eater coming out of a bunch of dried leaves.  it turned out to be a nest which was still being built!

this nest was a hanging nest, built very close to the ground.  it was made of softer plant material, what looked like a lot of moss.  the adult was still checking the nest out, coming back with new nesting material.  despite its (human) accessibility, it was easy to miss, it blended so well with the foliage and didn't look like what you would think a nest looks like.  the adult was entertaining to observe, leaving and coming back to the nest in almost exactly the same pattern every time.

it even led us to see another fly-eater nest, this time way up another rain tree.  the nest was already elongated and dry, probably used already. it was taking nesting material from that nest and using to to bulk up the new one.

strangely enough, a male pied triller was also taking material from that same fly-eater nest! 

 we had spotted the pied triller the day before, on a nearly bare narra tree, in the same area.  adri had spotted it because it was also sitting on a tiny nest strategically placed at the base where a larger branch forked out into three smaller branches (covered by a leaf in the photo below).  we couldn't figure out if it was an old nest or it was just being built, it looked very flimsy and thin.  we did see it (the male) sitting on it on the 2 consecutive days, i suppose i'll have to check on it again if i want to know what stage that nest is at. the female pied triller was also always in the area.

we saw many other pairs of birds during the birdwalks.  aside from the pied fantails harassing the orioles, there was a pair of collared kingfishers always at the same site, and we also spotted a pair of lowland white-eyes moving about a tree, gleaning for insects.  we also saw a white-breasted wood-swallow which seemed to have a well concealed nest on the corner of the steel bars of a communications antennae ("isn't it hot up there?", one of the students asked, more of a comment than a question).

our walk covered only a very limited area of the campus, i'd love to think that all this nesting activity is happening all over the university grounds!

is this the beginning of a new nest too?

(thanks to adri for the videos!)

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