Bird Photography, Bulbul and Robin Behavior Documented

I’m not much of a writer but I felt this story needs to be told. So, here I am, trying whatever best I can do at narrating this little incident. Do share your views in the comments section. This incidence occurred in June 2014. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Red Whiskered Bulbul is one of my favorite species of birds. I simply love watching them and hearing them sing.

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul

It was a Saturday. While enjoying a relaxed afternoon, we heard a pair of Red Whiskered Bulbuls screeching loudly as if in distress. I rushed out to see the Bulbuls (male and female) looking in the same direction and screaming very loudly. I noticed a juvenile Bulbul who must have knowingly or accidentally moved out of the nest. It was seated on a plastic rope that we had tied to support a tree in our garden. Usually, there are a lot of crows seen in our area and, a lot of cats too. These really were a big threat to the juvenile birds. The Bulbul couple, I am assuming, was trying to warn the juvenile of the threats out there.

Soon the juvenile bulbul who could barely fly moved to our neighbor’s terrace and sat in the open as if it wasn’t scared of anyone. One of the Bulbul parents went close to it and kept chirping loudly and fluttering its wings. I’m not sure what it meant but I think it instructed the juvenile to fly from there. Within no time a crow came close to attack the juvenile and it got all noisy. The mommy and daddy Bulbuls attacked the crow so aggressively that the crow had no choice but to fly away from there. While I watched the crow fly away, I couldn’t keep track of where the juvenile Bulbul had gone as all of this happened in a matter of a few seconds.

My son, Devansh who was 3 years old then, was there with me watching this incidence and we sat down on the veranda by the door to see if we could find the juvenile Bulbul and at least be assured that it was safe. After a while, we noticed that one of the parent Bulbuls was there with a berry, very close to us near the veranda. It flew down to the ground in our garden and went behind one of the pots. I assumed it went there because the juvenile was hiding there. I was right, soon, a juvenile Bulbul walked out from behind the pot. Although, I had a doubt if this was the same juvenile Bulbul which I had seen earlier or if it was another one. I kept an eye on this one to ensure it stays safe as cats and crows are frequent visitors too. Both the parent Bulbuls were always around together. While one would feed the juvenile, the other would stay at a distance and keep a watch on predators. The crows were far but they were watching. Cats were nearby but they didn’t know much about the juvenile. Despite this Devansh and I still shooed away the cats just, to ensure the threat wasn’t doubled.

Red Whiskered Bulbul with Juveline

Red Whiskered Bulbul with Juveline

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul Waiting

Soon I realized I was right, there were two juvenile Bulbuls. The earlier one which had gone hiding was now back and also near our veranda. It was sitting on a telephone cable. It stayed there for a long time. The parent Bulbul would come there frequently, feed it and give some instructions by fluttering its wings.

Red Whiskered Bulbuls on a Telephone Cable

Red Whiskered Bulbuls on a Telephone Cable

The juvenile Bulbul would acknowledge by making a sound. I noticed that the juvenile Bulbul that was on the telephone wire was slightly bigger than the one that was near the pot. It was more confident and could fly a bit more. Within 5-10 minutes, it went and sat on a bamboo stick which we had fixed for the money-plant to crawl. It sat there and kept chirping to its parents. The parents in the meantime sensed that due to a large number of crows they would definitely need some help. I say this because, while one of the parent Bulbuls sat close to the babies, the other went away and came back with another couple. And no, the other couple wasn’t a pair of Bulbuls, it was a pair of Oriental Magpie Robin. I was so surprised to see this. I wonder if they follow the same language and understand each other. The male Oriental Magpie Robin (identifiable because it’s only black and white in color, and the female has gray bit on it) screeched loudly to announce its arrival as if to let the predators know that the Bulbul couple wasn’t alone.

Oriental Magpie Robin - Female

Oriental Magpie Robin – Female

Oriental Magpie Robin - Male

Oriental Magpie Robin – Male

The Bulbul couple then left together, I believe in search of food. The male Oriental Magpie Robin was there on a tree and the female came down near the juvenile that was sitting on the pot. During this time the other juvenile which was there on the bamboo stick moved up on one of the branches of the nearby tree. The female Robin followed the juvenile and stayed close to it to ensure that it was not attacked by the crows. The female Robin thus divided its attention towards both juveniles and toggle it’s presence between the two spots, protecting both of them. I was quite moved by this as I had never imagined I would see camaraderie like this between two different species of birds.

Female Oriental Magpie Robin, protecting the Juvenile

Female Oriental Magpie Robin, protecting the Juvenile

Female Oriental Magpie Robin

Female Oriental Magpie Robin, protecting the Juvenile

Soon, the bigger juvenile returned back to the bamboo and started chirping loudly. I assume this communication was for the smaller juvenile as it suddenly moved and climbed on a stem of a tree only to reach the bamboo. It could fly very little but it managed to reach the bamboo stick. Now both the juvenile Bulbuls were on the bamboo stick, in open and very visible to the predators but the parent Bulbuls and the Robins ensured that they stayed there and thus not allowing the crows or cats to come closer.

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul

Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul on a Bamboo.

Red Whiskered Bulbul Family

Red Whiskered Bulbul Family on a Bamboo Stick.

The two babies were on the stick but a little away from each other. The parent Bulbuls instructed from afar to sit closer. The smaller one started to move slowly towards its bigger sibling and soon they were very close to each other. They kind of looked really cute together. I feel so blessed to have seen all this. All this time Devansh and I sat there on the veranda observing these birds as their story unfolded. We even shooed the crows and cats away, a few times.

Both Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul Babies

Both Juvenile Red Whiskered Bulbul Babies

The parent Bulbuls would turn-by-turn go away and get food for both the juveniles. Sometimes berries, sometimes insects like dragonflies and butterflies. All that the juveniles had to do was sit there patiently and keep eating the food that they got. Later, while I went inside the house for lunch, some of the notorious crows again attacked the little ones making them fly away in different directions and hide.

Red Whiskered Bulbul Feeding a Juvenile

Red Whiskered Bulbul Feeding a Juvenile

Red Whiskered Bulbul with Food for Juvenile

Red Whiskered Bulbul with Food for Juvenile

Red Whiskered Bulbul Feeding

Red Whiskered Bulbul Feeding the other Juvenile

Red Whiskered Bulbul Feeding

Red Whiskered Bulbul Feeding the Juvenile

Red Whiskered Bulbul with Juveniles

Red Whiskered Bulbul with Juveniles

I then noticed one of the juveniles between the dense leaves of a lemon tree in our neighbor’s garden. But I didn’t try to go close or look for the other one as I felt now they were kind of safe and well camouflaged. I hoped they remained, safe wherever they were.

Important Note: No flash has been used for any of the photos. All the photos were shot from a distance using the 50x Optical Zoom of Canon Powershot SX50 HS Digital Camera, thus ensuring that the birds didn’t feel discomforted or threatened. Also, as a birder, I am aware that it is not correct to click pictures of a birds nest as it may expose the birds to threats. However, please note that here the juvenile Bulbuls have wandered out of their nest and the nest location always remained unknown.

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