Beginning of a new breeding season...
February must be the beginning of a new breeding season. In and around my garden, I can see birds busy collecting nesting materials.
The Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) are arriving at the ceram palm to harvest palm frond fibres. They perch along the midrib of a leaflet, moving sideways towards the tip, pecking on the side of the leaflet to loosen a piece of fibre. The tips of these leaflets are usually frayed by the wind and pieces of fibres are exposed towards the tips. Just as suddenly as they arrive, these starlings suddenly fly off to their nests’ sites. After some time they return and make further collections.
The Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) (as well as the starlings), on the other hand, are collecting pieces of fresh golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) leaves. They peck the young leaves to break pieces and fly off with them. I am not sure what their nests look like but I must imagine that they are lined with fresh leaf pieces that eventually dry up. Our bird specialist, R. Subaraj, says that it is advantageous to harvest fresh leaves. Besides being pliable, the pieces last longer than if the bird starts with dead brown leaves. Sounds logical to me! Besides harvesting leaf pieces, they are picking palm fibres off the ground.
The Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans) are back at the ceram palms, making courtship sounds and behaviour. A few males are collecting twigs from the mempat trees (Cratoxylum formosum) along the road, flying in and out as they start to build their nests.
The Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) are similarly harvesting nesting materials. They have been at my Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae), collecting old stems of the dragon scale fern (Pyrrosia piloselloised) to build their nest.
Then the Olive-backed Sunbirds (Nectarinia jugularis) are actively collecting spider’s web. They hover around where these webs are and peck off pieces to bring to their nest.
The above observations are only in my suburban garden. I am sure all over the island other species of birds are busy collecting nesting materials to construct their nests.
Yes, a new breeding season is beginning!
Our bird specialist, R. Subaraj has this to say: "Many bird species do indeed start breeding from Feb/Mar, though some start as early as Dec/Jan and others as late as Apr/May. Those starting in Feb/Mar may have two broods with the second season commencing around May/June, right after the first batch fledges. The breeding season seems to follow the migration timing and birds seem to choose the period of less competition from migrants as well as less predation from migrant hawks - Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis) and Chinese Goshawk (A. soloensis) are common between Oct-Feb and specialise on small birds.
Input by R. Subaraj and YC, images by YC