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Friday, January 19, 2007

Antics of the Pied Fantail

Antics of the Pied Fantail

The Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica) is a small bird that is never still. The bird is constantly moving around, at the same time turning from side to side in a jerky way, lowering its wings, cocking up its head and constantly fanning its tail - opening and closing. It moves alone or in pairs, disturbing insects among vegetation with its movements and the fanning of the tail, to sally forth once an insect is disturbed from its rest. Sometimes it perches on a branch, but never remaining in one place for long, to hawk for flies and other insects.

Its antics are always amusing to watch. So much so that the Malays call it merbok gila, gila meaning mad. It is also known as murai gila, meaning crazy songbird or thrush. K.C. Tsang wrote: “This bird, according to the books, is supposed to be found in most areas in Singapore, from mangrove swamps, to parks, to gardens etc. In reality I have found it in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Sg. Buloh Wetland Reserve. Maybe it has been hiding from me in, say, MacRitchie and other reservoirs. Also, I have found that it shares the same kind of food as the Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps), taking insects from under leaf cover.

“It is an extremely shy bird and rarely do you find it out from under the cover of dense vegetation.” Our bird specialist R. Subaraj replies: “It is primarily a mangrove species but is also found in smaller numbers in various parts of Singapore. They are commonest at places like Sungei Buloh, Pulau Ubin, Pasir Ris mangrove and other natural coastal areas. Inland sites include Singapore Botanic Gardens, Bukit Batok Nature Park and many of the areas that support old abandoned farmland, particularly where there is water.

“Although it is occasionally found on the edge, where old farmland exists, this species does not normally occur within our true forested areas and this includes most of the margins of the reservoirs within the Central Catchment, including MacRitchie.

“On the balance of things here, this is still a common and fairly widespread bird.”

Input by KC and YC; images by Chan Yoke Meng (top two) and Johnny Wee (bottom).

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10 Comments:

At 1:49 pm, Blogger Charith said...

The White-browed Fantail of Sri Lanka, Rhipidura aureola is affectionately known locally as the Drunken Piper - for these same reasons - it hardly stays still for a moment and its movements seem almost as if its intoxicated!

 
At 11:57 pm, Anonymous Fred said...

A pied fantail flew in my apartment today and I caught it. I stay at Mount Sophia, right behind Dhoby Ghaut. I've seen some of them in the woods around here many times. I didn't know what this bird was, so as I was looking for info on the Internet and I came across your page. I posted photos here: http://www.pets.com.sg/forums/showthread.php?t=34143

I will set it free tomorrow morning as soon as I wake up :)

Very cute bird!!!

 
At 8:12 am, Blogger ches_1 said...

hi there... im not sure if the bird im seeing in my backyard is the pied fantail... but it seems to fit the right description... i was wondering how can i feed/attract the bird?

 
At 9:29 am, Blogger YC said...

Birds (the shy ones) only come when there is food around as well as shelter in terms of plants where they can hide from potential predators. Provide enough trees and shrubs for shade and food and you will get birds. Not sure about fantails though.

Visit http://besgroup.talfrynature.com/2009/01/02/antics-of-the-pied-fantail-2/ and check out the "Related Posts" at the bottom for more items on this bird.

 
At 11:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had saw a few pied fantails at my backyard, they were not shy at all!One flew in front of me and perched there, then less than a second, it flew away again. It is a very active bird, and cute too. They were making sweet-sweet sounds, and I think they are family parties, coming out to eat.

 
At 11:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had saw a few pied fantails at my backyard, they were not shy at all!One flew in front of me and perched there, then less than a second, it flew away again. It is a very active bird, and cute too. They were making sweet-sweet sounds, and I think they are family parties, coming out to eat.

 
At 11:27 am, Blogger jaja said...

i saw it on our widow the other day trying to bump in,when i opened it i saw it standin in a tree branch..well it quickly flew away... its in philippines too..

 
At 11:29 am, Blogger jaja said...

i saw it on our window the other day...bumping in...wen i opened it ..i saw it standing on a tree branch then quickly flew away... its hir in the phil too

 
At 7:33 pm, Blogger cyworld said...

There is a pied fantail nest just out of my reach on a tree near my balcony. I have been watching them since the parents were feeding them in the nest. Now the two chicks are out of the nest but still being fed by the parents on a nearby branch. When the chicks were still in the nest the parent would lunge at me whenever i went out to smoke and repeatedly squawk until i went back inside. I also saw them lunge at a cat on the grass multiple times. Now they just squawk if they see me. I hope they nest near my balcony again! I think the parents are trying to get the chicks to fly by holding food in their mouth on a different branch? Because i see the chicks dash around and chirp like whenever the parent brings them food.

 
At 8:04 pm, Anonymous YC Wee said...

Any photos? Why not send in a short account for posting in our new site www.besgroup.org

You can send the account and photos to me at wee37@starhub.net.sg

 

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