The mynas and the babbler

The location : Kabini River Lodge (a unit of Jungle Lodges & Resorts Ltd.)

Being the month of March, the forests were dry, the trees almost leafless. And, I had decided to go on a safari to see if I can improve my rather dismal track record with the cats. The morning was eventful. Shortly after we entered the forests we did get lucky. We saw a tiger for a good period of time before it decided to melt away into the forest.

The other wildlife enthusiasts in the jeep and I kept busy looking at birds and various other things that showed up as we drove along. We managed to take pictures of some of the birds too.

We had stopped the vehicle at one point listening to the sounds of the jungle. Not far from the road was a tree with a bend in the bole at about 15 ft from the ground. It seemed as if a branch had broken off at that point and a cavity had formed subsequently. A pair of Common Mynas landed at this place on the tree and they started calling in their usual demeanour. A cacophony with head bobbing and all ensued. I was watching the happening with my naked eyes while other co-passengers were looking at the drama through their long lenses.

Perhaps, all of 30 seconds lapsed when suddenly a Jungle Babbler flew out from amidst the mynas. The babbler must have been sitting inside this hollow. We were all caught by surprise by the sudden emergence of the babbler. The moment the babbler flew out of the hole the mynas put their head into the hole. The next moment we saw one of the mynas with the blue egg of the babbler in its beak, the contents spilling out. The mynas had managed to crack the egg and had brought it out. Even as we watched, the mynas flew away from the tree. We could not ensure if the mynas eventually fed on the contents of the egg or simply dropped it some distance away.


Once the mynas left, the babbler came back to the nest. It sat there, looked around, peeped into the nest hole and left the scene shortly after.

Mynas, being secondary hole nesters, are known to regularly evict birds from their nest and occupy them. But this incident, where they even destroyed the egg and carried it away was interesting. Whether the mynas evicted the babbler to nest there themselves or simply to feed on the egg could not be ascertained.

The chain of events transpired so quickly and I was completely taken by surprise that I did not even react fast enough to take some pictures of the event. So, here it is, a picture shot by Mr. Kesavamurthy who observed the whole drama through his camera. However, this was the highlight of the morning drive into the forest, even more interesting than a mere sighting of the tiger!!

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