Monday, April 04, 2011

Brood parasitism

Pasir Ris Park was a buzz recently when word got out that a pair of Golden-bellied Greygones were nesting at near eye-level on a tree. I was late heading down to the site as there were too many people focused on the two little birds and I didn't want to be a part of the human jam.

Gerygones are from the flycatcher family and are very tiny at 6 cm long. These birds are often heard in the canopy but are hard to spot due to their size and quick movement. Pasir Ris is probably the best place to spot these birds are they do come down to the lower branches when they pursue prey.
There were four of us at the location two Sundays ago and we were happily snapping photos of the parents feeding a rather hungry chick.
When someone remarked that the chick look to be a lot larger than the parents feeding it. It was then that light bulbs started going off in our heads. We were all watching and documenting brood parasitism at play, the gerygones were raising a cuckoo chick.
Unfortunately, I was unable to document the fledgling of the cuckoo chick, which most of us think is a Little Bronze Cuckoo. The Little Bronze is also the smallest cuckoo at 15 cm long. I did however manage to locate the parents and their mega-gerygone chick the following day. Here's mega-chick that was heard constantly calling to its parents to feed it. That was also how I managed to locate the chick by its incessant calls of "feed me!"
I only managed to get one shot of the parent feeding the chick before my time ran out that day but good enough to show you how the parent's head almost disappearing into the chick's mouth.
I'm glad to be able to witness and share with you a strange side of nature.

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