Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Backpacker

"... When the nesting time arrives, a hollow tree or branch is chosen—preferably one with a long, narrow, nearly vertical cavity, and a narrow entrance at the top. Then the female builds her nest, which consists of strips nibbled from the edges of green leaves. Having cut a strip, she inserts one end of it under her scarlet rump-feathers, apparently digging it well into the skin; this does not however, prevent a large proportion of the strips from falling out. When a rumpful of strips is collected, she flies off to her nest-hole and deposits them, accumulating a large mass, on top of which the eggs, two or three in number, are laid."

G.M. Henry about Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot in A Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka, first published in 1955.

Friday, 10 December, 2011. A respite at last after days of deluge. I came out of my house to enjoy the first rays of sunlight after days of gloom. Well, actually, to put my towel out to dry. Soon, a familiar call drew my attention to the Cinnamon tree in front. It was a Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot—an endemic bird that is more than an occasional visitor to my yard. In all honesty, I wouldn't have noticed it had it not betrayed its presence, for it was merged into the foliage like a traffic policeman in a dark roadside corner.

I ran back to my house get my camera to photograph it, after noticing what it was doing—tearing leaf strips, and tucking them inside its lower back, which is also known as the rump. Knowing that I do not have a lot of time to adjust the settings, I fired some record shots, and the above was the best out of the lot. This was the first time observed this "backpacking" behaviour described so well by the late G.M. Henry, whose book mentioned above was my first guide to birds.


Kirigalpoththa said...

So.. is the parrot telling us the rainy season is over?

Stu said...

Wow, weird.........

Nice to have you back!

silent moments said...

wow nice observation! especially when it happens in your garden :)

Phil said...

Amazing behaviour Amila, I learnt something completely new today. I'm so glad the rains have finished for you. I only ever enjoyed the heat of India and Sri Lanka so can't imagine how bad it must get.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amila - this is also known as the Lorikeet, right? I managed to video one tucking into a guava not more than 15 feet away at Flowerbook. Really cute birds!

Me-shak said...

Lovely :) And I totally agree about the police :P I have to try and get my hands on that book :)


Chavie said...

That is a cute bird. The rain must've been terrible for you, nuh? I'm glad I can step out of the house for once. :D Hope this doesn't mean drought, though. ;)

Bushana said...

Hi Amila
Though I have read about this in Henry and several other sources I doubted validity of that since I wonder how it would fly with them without falling out. But now I can believe that fascinating tale thanks to your picture.:)

Anjana said...


This is the 1st time I hear this story.

Gallicissa said...

More like its telling it's ready to breed. :)

I am happy to be back. A lot of raw files to process ...

Thanks. Yes, that made it special.

Thanks. It's only a respite; more rain is expected. Rain triggers breeding behaviours in most birds, so I kind of like the rainy times.

Yes, it's the good old Lorikeet. Nice to know that you managed to capture a video of it. Their males look very pretty in good light.

Thanks. It's still a very handy resource on birds of this country. If you are going to buy, get the third edition, which is the latest.

To be honest, I don't mind the rain! That is because it triggers breeding activity in birds, and they often tend to be vocal and active as soon as there is a respite. And that often makes birding easier. (I was in the rain forests during heavy rainy times of last month.)

To be honest, I too doubted this this when I first heard about it during my Y.Z.A days. Out of respect for Henry, I didn't say anything bad though!

Another interesting story revealed about this bird by Henry is that drinking toddy collected in pots placed atop coconut/fishtail palms, it gets drunk and falls under those trees! And that apparently makes it easier to capture them!

Anjana said...

Ohh!! Really?

That’s one Srilankan bird for sure … :D

Btw do you know anyplace that I can grab a copy of that book?

Gallicissa said...

Try at Vijitha Yapa. If you do not find it there, try the secondhand bookshops at Maradana.

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