Pied Triller’s nest raided by an Asian Koel.
I chanced upon the nest of a pair of Pied Trillers Lalage nigra on an Ordeal Tree Erythrophleum suavolens along one-north Crescent during my evening walk early this August . It was a cup shaped nest about 10 cm in diameter stuck between the fork of two thin branches near the canopy. The two chicks must have hatched a few days ago. Both parents were busy bringing back insects and caterpillars to the chicks.
I went there to check on their progress two days later and witnessed a heartbreaking incident. A male Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea flew in and went straight to the nest. It must have been watching this nesting for some time.
The Koel attacked and pecked at the chick which clung on to the nest. As the Koel pulled the chick out, the nest was came off the branch too. The Koel then shook the chick violently by its neck several times until it went limped. It dropped the chick and the nest to the ground instead of eating it. I think it was trying to take over the nest by getting rid of the chicks but destroyed the nest while doing so.
The parents came back after the attack and was totally confused to find the nest gone and the chicks nowhere in sight. They went up and down the branches frantically searching for the chicks for some time, gave up and flew away.
The first chick had no chance. It was dead before it hit the ground.
But surprisingly the other chick survived the attack and fall with a few ruffled feathers.
I picked up the nest and wedged it by the trunk of the tree a few meters above the ground and left the chick there. At least it will be safe from feral predators. I stayed around for a while but the parents did not show up. Next morning I found it back on the ground. It must have fallen out of the nest during the night.
I decided to tied the nest on a low twig near the ground and put the chick back in. By now the chick had not been fed for more than 24 hours. It was chirping and calling for its parents. Luckily the parents heard the calls this time round and came back. I experienced the most wonderful moment when the daddy found the chick. They were so happy being reunited!
I was also happy to see the parents resumed feeding the chick.
The mummy was more concerned and hang around to make sure junior was safe. She did not want to lose another chick again.
The chick was strong enough to climb up the tree with the help of some flapping. It seemed to know that it had a better chance of surviving if it moved up to the safety of the dense foliage above.
Next morning I found the chick resting at the mid storey of the Tembusu and the parents still feeding it. Now I was sure that this chick would survive.
PS. The Asian Koel is an invader species to Singapore. There were no previous records of its destructive behaviour. In fact they were attributed for helping to control the crow’s population here by parasitizing their nesting. This may be the first time such an aggressive behaviour has been recorded. I would like to hear if there were other such attacks seen here or elsewhere.
Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore).