City Bird Life

Since spring migration has ended the bird life has been quiet in the city. Apart from seeing the resident birds raising their young we have to wait until the next migrational period for more excitement. Recently, I’ve been practising and enjoying macro photography which also conveniently extends to reptile photography.

Trimeresurus macrops has become a very familiar snake as the spot I frequent has a large population in a small area. 13th June 2022.
My favourite ant observation. The species is called Crematogaster quadriruga. Pretty much undocumented in photos; maybe the first photo of them scavenging on the internet. First photo of the species on iNaturalist. 9th June 2022.

In terms of birds; recently, I’ve just been making observations in our city garden. It’s nice getting familiar with the birds that frequent the area and also gaining their trust through said familiarity. It has also coincided with rescuing a Zebra Dove a month ago which helps the birds in the garden be more trusting.

Our rescue Zebra Dove out on the grass.

We found it on the tennis court, it even allowed me to pick it up; after a vet check-up it had a protozoa infection. It had full adult plumage but was definitely still young. After recovering from the parasites it still exhibits the same atypical behaviour, there’s a chance it has visual problems or past trauma. It may remain a mystery. I enjoy taking care of it and whenever I’m home I let it on to the grass to be around the other Doves.

Spotted Dove is a daily visitor to the garden, often a pair but sometimes more.

The main attractions in the garden apart from the food for the birds are two water dishes: one shallow and another deep. This accounts for all species’ drinking and washing needs. Again, it also makes for good entertainment seeing different species arrive and interact with each-other.

A pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls frequently visit the garden for bathing amenities.

Aside from the Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Streak-eared Bulbul is also present but visits the water less frequently than its brighter and more musical cousin. If you’re lucky a flock of Red-whiskered Bulbuls may pop-by; easily detected by their call but they seem more nomadic than the other Bulbuls.

Wet Streak-eared Bulbul which was present with a juvenile from yesterday.
Juvenile Oriental Magpie-Robin.

In the past week, this juvenile Oriental Magpie-Robin has been lurking in the garden. The first few days I just heard it but a couple days later it was exploring and visiting the water-bowls. Other mainstay species inside the garden include the noisy Common Tailorbird and Malaysian Pied Fantail. The Fantail hunts insects in the shady edges beside the grass; if it’s not there it’ll be taking a bath at one of the dishes.

Juvenile Malaysian Pied Fantail from last month.
Common Tailorbird; loudest for its size!

Yesterday, I observed 3 fledged Black-collared Starling which had recently left their nest on the signal towers atop of the neighbouring apartment blocks. Their nest was initially on a telephone pole by the main-road but it was removed and thus relocated. Atop these same signal towers is the easiest way to see the third observable species of Dove from the garden: Red Collared-Dove.

In the city I only really see Red Collared-Doves on super high perches.
Black-collared Starling parent and juvenile.

Coming back to the ground; over the past 3 days a young Zebra Dove has been seen frequently, a very adventurous and curious one. I think it likes to see our rescue Dove – I have seen it ‘resting’ on the ground nearby. The other day I got a picture of this individual before heavy rain fell.

Very adventurous young Zebra Dove

The Zebra Doves often arrive in our garden in numbers reaching 20. It’s good fun watching them roam around and the brave few who venture close to me. Interestingly, the Spotted Doves which are usually very flighty became quite trusting of me quickly.

Female Plaintive Cuckoo.

Other resident species I did not mention include the usual suspects of Coppersmith Barbet and Asian Koel. Although I haven’t heard the latter for quite sometime. Plaintive Cuckoos are still vocal and showing; Common Mynas are occasionally seen and a Great Myna has recently been foraging in all areas of the garden. The aforementioned Black-collared Starlings often come down to the garden, too.

Fledgling Eurasian Tree Sparrow which had nested in the garden.

The flowering trees in the front are the place to see Olive-backed Sunbird and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Feral Pigeons are of course present but they stick to the road and taller buildings. Large-billed Crow (Eastern Jungle Crow) is occasionally seen and heard but luckily aren’t numerous like in the parks. I have only seen Blue-tailed Bee-eaters atop some tv aerials on a neighbouring apartment block a couple of times.

Red-whiskered Bulbuls have shown up a few times each year

Both species of House and Eurasian Tree Sparrows are around but rarely visit the garden. When the garden was new and there was less cover we used to get quite a number of them. I remember them fighting over food and one Eurasian Tree Sparrow even died. Apart from these birds, Scaly-breasted Munia are frequently around but, again, rarely in the garden – they’re most frequently heard and seen when they travel to their evening roost.

Zebra Dove family roosting at my home

I would provide some more images but they can be hard to locate in my storage, but all the garden birds I have provided here are pictures taken recently in the garden itself. Even in the city, there’s enjoyable bird life to observe!

All images and video © 2022 hamsambly

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