Sunday, April 12

Bird Parenting 101

Remember the Philippine Pied Fantail pair attacking the fur-kid in the backyard?  I did find the nest high up in the sampaloc (tamarind) tree. It was a neat, cup-shaped nest built at the intersection of very thin branches.  It was clearly seen from the second floor bedroom window (unfortunately a screened window) and I could see the pair taking turns sitting on the nest a few days after I wrote about them.  I could only check on them before leaving for work in the morning, as an important project had me coming home at night the entire week.

This morning, I was happy to see that the couple was busy feeding a pair of  pin-feathered chicks who would automatically beg for food with open mouths the moment one of the parents landed on the nest branch.
Each parent takes its turn visiting the nest to pass on some food.

The nest was well hidden from the ground but Adri found a nice angle which was relatively clear, although it was a bottom-up view.

It's funny how the head of one of the chicks is hanging out of the nest.

It was amazing to watch the parents tirelessly take turns coming back to the nest the entire day, bringing with them food caught from around the garden and from the next door empty lot.

The parents are so busy looking for food they hardly mind anything else.

Here's a short video from Adri taken with his digiscoping set-up (watch in HD):

While Adri and I were watching the fantails busy catching insects with their graceful acrobatic moves from the terrace, a pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls on the other side of the garden caught my attention. 
One of a pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls also busy looking for food.

I followed their regular return to the makopa  (wax apple) tree and quickly spotted a very well hidden nest in the thick foliage above!  The nest looked untidy compared to the fantail nest, but I knew from other bulbul nests we had previously that it was very sturdy.

The bulbul nest with an out-of-focus parent's  eye barely visible on the right side.

Like the fantails, the bulbuls dutifully returned bringing with them a mouthful of food.  I couldn't see the nest clearly but a loud twittering and slight fluttering welcomed each of the parents' arrival.  It looked like these chicks were much older than the fantails. The pair regarded me curiously on each return.

Food delivery for hungry chicks.
While watching this energetic couple from the terrace, I was distracted by a third bulbul who was bold enough to take a dip in the bird bath beside the nest tree, when suddenly there was a commotion from the parent pair.

My guess was right, these chicks (I thought there were at least 2) were probably a couple of weeks old already, and one of them had fallen into the  bird's nest fern growing on the main trunk of the tree!

This young bird decided that today would be a good day to leave the nest.

It looked very young with its yellow gape but its feathers had already fully emerged.  Was this the first outing for this fledgling?  I was confident that the bird was safe in the fern, now living up to its name as a bird's nest.  The poor parents now took turns feeding the chick(s?) in the original nest and this brave young one who had ventured out.  They now had a "first floor" and "second floor" nest!

I thought the young bird would stay in place, but apparently it had a taste for adventure as it followed its parents up and down the nearby branches!

Venturing out of the safety of the nest into the open!
The parents would check on it and feed it every know and then.  Soon it jumped back into the foliage, making its way to the higher branches where the original nest was, until we lost sight of it.


Parents keeping tabs on their young one.

Here's another video clip from Adri (watch in HD!), see how cute the young bulbul is with its little crest:

I love finding these little displays of natural history in our garden! The amount of energy invested by the parent birds in bringing up their brood is inspiring. Last year we had followed a nest from egg to fledge and it was both amazing and worrisome.  We were so stressed over little things like a summer rainstorm, to curious eyes (and hands!) from the other side of the fence, to stray cats! The emotional investment of watching the parents incubate the eggs and care for the young birds and finally wondering when they fledged whether they would survive was so taxing!

I do hope that both the fantails and the bulbuls survive the dangerous days after the fledge and start their own families next year!


  1. ANG COOL!!! What a wonderful garden you and Adri have! I especially love the photo of the parent-and-child bulbul =)

    1. Thanks Maia! I was lucky the fledge happened on a Sunday, otherwise I wouldn't be able to see it! It's really my mom's garden so compliments to her. :-)