Contributed by Connie Khoo, a field researcher from Ipoh.
On the 27th May 2015 during one of my frequent visits to the Desa Park City outside Kuala Lumpur, I came across a Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach, picking up leeches and centipedes from the open grass patches by the side of the park. It did not occurred to me that they are nesting nearby until two days later when I saw them bravely chasing away House Crows, one of the most aggressive birds around. I found their well hidden nest 5 metres up the edges by the side of the park. Even the Asian Koels and a Crested Goshawk received the same treatment when they got too close to the nest.
It was only on 2nd June that I saw the parents feeding the chicks very frequently with insects and lots of centipedes. I decided not to draw too much attention to them during this crucial period. When I returned on the 18th June, the two chicks were very active. To my surprise, they both fledged in the afternoon and were seen resting just outside the nest. I could not believe on the timing.
In the next few days the fledglings were exploring the area near the nest perching on the nearby trees. The feeding continued and I was able to record their diet. They included dragonflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers and plenty of centipedes. In fact in a two hour morning, they ate a total of 27 centipedes. I managed to pick up a dead left over centipede on one occasion and found that their sting was still intact, which means that the chicks swallow the centipede alive. The House Crows were still around but did not attack the fledglings partly because the parents were keeping watch close by.
I am glad to report that the two fledglings were happily flying around on the 24th June, almost a month after I first saw the parents picking up the centipedes. This pair had successfully brought up another new generation of shrikes to grace our parks and gardens.
For further reading:
Khoo S.Y. 2011. Observation on the hunting and feeding behaviour of breeding Long-tailed Shrikes. Birding Asia 16. 71-74.
Suara Enggang Vol 21/3. 2013.
You can also visit her blog at connieksw.wordpress.com. Edited by Alan OwYong.
Harris, T. & Franklin, K. 2010. Shrikes & Bush-Shrikes – Including Wood-shrikes, Helmet-shrikes,
Shrike Flycatchers, Philentomas, Batises and Wattle-eyes. Helm Identification Guide. Christopher Helm, London.