Pitta guajana, Banded Pitta, Burung Paok

Written by on November 19, 2010 in Bali Bird with 0 Comments

Pitta guajana, Banded Pitta, Burung Paok Pittas are a family, Pittidae, of passerine birPitta guajana, Banded Pitta, Burung Paokds mainly found in tropical Asia and Australasia, although a couple of species live in Africa. Pittas are all similar in general structure and habits, and are placed in a single genus, Pitta. The name is derived from the word pitta in the Telugu language of Andhra Pradesh in India and is a generic local name used for all small birds.

Pittas are 15 to 25 centimetres in length, and stocky, with longish strong legs and long feet. They have very short tails and stout, slightly decurved bills. Many, but not all, are brightly coloured plumage.

These are fairly terrestrial birds of wet forest floors. They eat snails, insects and similar invertebrate prey. Pittas are mostly solitary and lay up to six eggs in a large spherical nest in a tree or shrub, or sometimes on the ground. Both parents care for the young.

Many species of pittas are migratory, and they often end up in unexpected places like house-gardens during migration.

Pittas are diurnal, requiring light in order to find their often cryptic prey. They are nevertheless often found in darker areas and are highly secretive, though they will respond to imitations of their calls. They are generally found as single birds, with even young birds not associating with their parents unless they are being fed. Small groups have been observed during migration.

Diet and feeding

Earthworms form the major part of the diet of pittas, followed by snails in order of importance. Earthworms may however become seasonally unavailable in dry conditions when the worms move deeper into the soil. In addition a wide range of invertebrate prey is eaten, including many insects groups such as termites, ants, beetles, true bugs, and lepidopterans; as well as centipedes, millipedes, and spiders.

Pittas feed in a thrush-like fashion, moving aside leaves with a sweeping motion of the bill. They have also been observed to probe the moist soil with their bills in order to locate earthworms. It has been suggested that they are able to locate earthworms by smell; a suggestion supported by a study which found that they have the largest olfactory bulb of 25 passerines examined. Some species will also use tree roots and rocks as anvils on which to smash open snails in order to eat.

Breeding

Like most birds the pittas are mongamous breeders, and defend breeding territories. Most species are seasonal breeders, timing their breeding to occur at the onset of the rainy season. An exception to this is the Superb Pitta, which breeds almost year round, as the island of Manus which it breeds on remains wet all year. The courtship behaviours of the family are poorly known, but the elaborate dance of the African Pitta includes jumping into the air with a puffed out breast and parachuting down back down to the perch.

The pittas build a rudimentary nest that is a dome with a side entrance. The nest is as large as a rugby ball, and is usually well camouflaged amongst vines or vegetation of some kind. The nests can either be placed on the ground or in trees. Both sexes help to build the nest, but the male does most of the work.

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