Friday, April 5, 2013

Fallen Chick

It was a great birding morning with visiting birder friends Dave, Eric, and Penn. We were able to see some Ashy Ground-Thrushes (and even heard one singing beautifully just by the park entrance!) and also got to see glimpses of a handsome Hooded Pitta, even though it was very easily flushed away. It was the second time I've seen the Hooded Pitta in the La Mesa Ecopark so it was a special treat for me too =)

The trail was alive with bird calls: Grey-backed Tailorbirds sang loudly but unseen from the trees, Black-naped Orioles called loudly from the treetops, and Lowland White-eyes chirped all around us. A Mangrove Blue Flycatcher posed well for us, allowing Dave and Eric to take lots of photos.

We weren't so lucky with the usually friendly Red-bellied Pitta though. We searched and scanned and listened for it but it simply didn't show. Oh well, it means our friends will have to come back again for it =)

While searching for the pitta and more birds, I noticed some Lowland White-eyes flitting around the branches just above my head. It was then that I noticed that they had a nest just above the trail. Upon closer observation, we saw that the nest actually had a gaping hole underneath and you could actually see an egg resting in the "crack"! How precarious!

Even more scarier was what we saw next... a newly hatched chick dangling from the nest's edge by its leg! It was such a disturbing sight for me and I was a bit glad I didn't have my camera. The adult white-eye kept coming back to the nest and kept trying to feed the chick with a small worm. The chick wriggled and wriggled and we were all dreading that it might fall. And it did. It dropped silently to the ground. And I saw it with my own two eyes. =(

Dave, who was nearest me, heard my gasp and we immediately approached the area to check on the tiny chick... Eric joined us and he spotted the tiny bird and gently scooped it up with dried leaves. It was still alive. Eric handed my the leaf and the fallen chick... and I looked at it sadly.

One of the saddest things I've seen while birding...

We all knew its chances of survival were close to (or practically) none... but we had to do something! Jops found an old, discarded nest nearby. We placed the chick as gently as we could inside and positioned it near its original nest hoping the parents would notice it and continue caring for it. With a deep sigh, I walked away from the area and took a last look at the nest. I was quite surprised to see the adult Lowland White-eye sitting on the nest, warming the egg inside.

Hmm, did the parents push the chick out of the nest or did it fall by itself? Was the chick falling out of the nest a consequence of "poor nest construction"? Whatever the reason or cause, it was just sad seeing such a frail living thing so defenseless and us feeling helpless to do anything. We left the trail hoping for the impossible that the chick would survive.

All that sadness was washed away when we were able to see two healthy and wide-awake juvenile Philippine Scops-Owls perched comfortably (and securely) beside one of their parents right after we had lunch. Even in nature, you win some and you lose some.. 

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