Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mangrove Pitta Handling Crabs

Ever since I picked up nature photography 2 years ago, biggest satisfaction came from the extra knowledge and the opportunity to observe & learn more about things that I don't get to see or previously unknown.

Through the course of photography, I learn more than just the name of the plants or animals that I photographed. I learn about their behaviour, their diet, their distribution & most importantly their habitat as well as their challenges.

Is quite a satisfaction being able to see this uncommon/rare Mangrove pitta (Pitta megarhyncha) in the wild! Is getting more difficult to see one as this species of pitta can only be found in the mangrove area. Looking at the area of mangroves in Singapore shrunk to just ten over percent from the original size over the years. That's no accident why Mangrove pittas are so rare now. (Mangrove pitta is also considered globally near-threatened)

While I was searching more details about this bird, most of the sources saying that the main diet are earthworms and snails. Pittas also consume a variety of invertebrates such as ants, beetles, bugs, centipedes, spiders, and termites, as well as small frogs, skinks and snakes. No crabs was mentioned!

This is my second sighting of this beautiful pitta and again, throughout the one hour of my observations, this pitta only take crabs and nothing else. It took three crabs before disappear from my sight.

Different from other birds that I seen, Mangrove pitta prepare their prey by simply removing their legs.
Mangrove pitta hold their prey by their leg and shake vigorously to dislodge their leg. After the initial shake, half of the legs on the right of the crab been dislodged.
Targeting the legs on the left side of the crab.

Only one leg left still dangling on the crab.

The last leg was torn off too.

All the legs of the crab are gone and only one pincer seen remained. The pitta is now ready to consume his catch.

After finish the crab body, the pitta pick up the legs from the floor and nothing is waste.

The legs of the crabs are removed and not the pincer, I wonder is it because to cripple the crab from escaping or prevent the crab from 'scratching' their stomach wall? Aren't the pincer can cause some damage too?

Even after 2 observations, there are still more things to be learned from this pitta...

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