Nesting of Rufescent Prinias in Peninsular Malaysia.
By Connie Khoo.
The Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens is a common breeding resident in Malaysia. The subspecies found in Peninsular Malaysia is extrema. It is one of the three Prinia species listed in Malaysia. It can be found in open scrub and dry grasslands next to forest edges. It is also a common resident across South East Asia except Central Thailand and Singapore. Its range include North and North East India, Bhutan and SW China.
The fledgling staying close to the nest just below it while the parent kept watch from above.
On 3rd June 2019 I came across a low nest by the side of a forest outside Ipoh, Perak. The nest was built by stitching up the sides of a large leaf into a conical shaped cup just like a tailorbird’s nest. The one meter tall plant is identified as the Terung Asam, Solanum lasiocarpum, by my friend Amar-Singh HSS. It was lined with fine dried grasses inside and hung about a half meter above ground.
The nest is very similar to that of the tailorbird’s nest, leaf sewn together, cup shaped and filled with fine grasses inside.
Three hatchlings with pin feathers and exposed naked skin were seen inside the nest. Their eyes were closed. I estimated that they hatched no more than 2 to 3 day before.
A wide angle view of the surrounding habitat and forest edge of the nesting area with the Terung Asam on the left.
When I visited the nest again on the 6th June, the parents were more relaxed and were feeding the chicks regularly. During the monitoring over the next few days, I saw the parents bringing back a variety of insects for the chicks with caterpillars as the main diet. Other insects include grasshoppers, small moths and butterflies, termites, spiders, black ants and insect eggs. However no dragonflies or damselflies were brought back.
Parent checking on the hatchlings inside the sewn leaf of the Terung Asam plant.
On 8th June, the chicks were fully covered by feathers and their eyes were open. By now they were about 7-8 days old.
The first chick fledged on the morning of the 12th June at 8.38 am, 11-13 days after hatching. It jumped out of the nest and then flew to a thin branch 3 meters away. This caused much anxiety and excitement with the parents. The second and third chick followed suit at 8.46 am and 9.18 am. They flew straight to the nearest branch much to the relief of the parents. The feeding continued that morning but I was surprised to find two more adults coming by to help feed the chicks. This communal feeding was recorded in other species but this is the first time I have seen it with this prinia.
The first fledgling came out of the nest after 11-13 days after hatching.
The parents led the chicks out to the forest edges to feed the next day. By now it was hard to monitor them as the chicks moved deeper into the denser part of the forest.
The parents staying close to the fledglings at the edge of the forest on the second day after they fledged.
I was glad to be able to document this nesting as past nesting failed either due to predation or inclement weather.
Thanks to Alan OwYong for editing and additional notes on its distribution.
Reference: Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Company 2000.