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Pitta moluccensis (Statius Muller, 1776)
by Ms. Nur Aina Amira Binti Mahyudin & Mr. Kaviarasu Munian
© Faradiana, N.M.F.

Pitta moluccensis or Blue-winged Pitta is a passerine bird under the family Pittidae. Pittas have stout bills, short tails and long legs with no visible scaling (Camfield, 2004; Robson, 2015). The adult has blackish to dark brown colour from the top of the head to the nape and a white throat. At the side of its head, there is a narrow superciliary stripe. The colour of their mantle and scapular are green while the upper wing coverts are deep violet-blue in colour. The vent is red with a plain buff underpart. Both sexes have the same plumage colours including the juveniles. However, the juvenile can be distinguished by having a duller plumage and a whiter chin (Robson, 2015).

The Blue-winged Pitta is called as burung pacat (leech bird) or burung kubong (Robinson, 1927; Avibase, n.d.). Its range extends from India to Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, southern China and the Philippines (Avibase, n.d.; BirdLife International, 2016). It hops on the ground and on small branches to forage for invertebrates such as insects and worms (Strange, 2000).

The Blue-winged Pitta is a non-breeding visitor in the Malay Peninsula but it has been confirmed to breed in the extreme north, in Perlis and adjacent Langkawi Island (Lambert and Woodcock, 1996; Medway and Wells, 1976) with incubation period recorded between May to July (Medway and Wells, 1976).

In 2005 in Taman Negara National Park, Pahang, a Blue-winged Pitta was observed carrying food back to its nest in a dead tree stump, an unusual location, with three nestlings estimated to be around one week old (Hutchinson & Mears, 2006). This species usually builds its nest close to the ground level by using dry leaves and branches bound together with mud to construct a spherical mound (Lambert and Woodcock, 1996). In Singapore, the first confirmed breeding records of Blue-winged Pitta was recorded on Pulau Ubin in July and August 2016. Although an uncommon winter visitor in Singapore (Lim, 2009), two adults and four chicks were discovered in a nest made of dead fronds of rattans (Calamus erinaceus) in a secondary forest (Low et. al., 2016).

Blue-winged Pitta is Least Concern (LC) in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species (BirdLife International, 2016) and listed as Totally Protected Wildlife in the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

References

  1. Avibase. (n.d.). Blue-winged Pitta. Retrieved March 02, 2022, from https://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?avibaseid=AA127B894EAD689E
  2. BirdLife International. 2016. Pitta moluccensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22698688A93697612. Retrieved March 02, 2022, from https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22698688A93697612.en
  3. Camfield, A. (2004). "Pittidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved March 02, 2022, from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pittidae/
  4. Hutchinson, R. & Mears, A. (2006). Extension of the breeding range of Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis in Peninsular Malaysia. Biogeographica, 3, 319-328.
  5. Lambert, F. & Woodcock, M. (1996). Pittas, broadbills and asities. Robertsbridge, Sussex, U.K.: Pica Press.
  6. Lambert, F. (1996). Identification of pittas in the ‘brachyura’ complex in Asia. Oriental Bird Club Bulletin, 23, 31-37
  7. Lim, K.S. (2009). The avifauna of Singapore. Singapore: Nature Society, Singapore.
  8. Low, B.W., Chia, A., Tan, G.C., Yap, W.J., & Lim, K.K. (2016). First documented records of the Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis breeding in Singapore. BirdingASIA, 26, 43-46
  9. Medway, L. & Wells, D.R. (1976). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula, Volume 5. London: Witherby.
  10. Robinson, H.C. (1927). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula: The Commoner Birds, Volume 1. London: Witherby.
  11. Robson, C. (2015). Birds of South-East Asia: Second Edition. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  12. Strange, M. (2000). A photographic guide to the birds of Southeast Asia: including the Philippines and Borneo. Princeton University Press.
  13. Wildlife Conservation Act (2010). Laws of Malaysia Act 716
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