Pied Bush Chat
Pied bush chat (Saxicola caprata) is a small passerine bird found ranging from West Asia and Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. About sixteen subspecies are recognized through its wide range with many island forms. It is a familiar bird of countryside and open scrub or grassland where it is found perched at the top of short thorn trees or other shrubs, looking out for insect prey. The males are black with white shoulder and vent patches whose extent varies among populations. Females are predominantly brownish while juveniles are speckled.
The pied bush chat is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from the Greater Middle East through the Indian subcontinent eastwards to Indonesia. They colonize Papua New Guinea around 1950. It is found in open habitats including scrub, grassland and cultivation. Some populations are partially migratory. The breeding season is mainly February to August with a peak in March to June. The nest is built in a hole in a wall or similar site lined with grass and hair, and two to five eggs are laid. The eggs are small and broadly oval with pale bluish-white or pinkish ground colour and speckles and blotches towards the broad end.
This species is insectivorous, and like other chats hunts from a prominent low perch. They have been noted to feed on Pyralid moths and whitefly. Nematode parasites in the genus Acuaria have been noted. Adult birds have few predators although bats (Megaderma lyra) and wintering Asio flammeus have been noted to prey on them.
The pied bush chat is also of cultural importance to the Toda people in the Nilgiris. It is a bird of omen, and the origin of its white wing patches is described in a story of a dairy priest Piu.f who in the ritual of churning milk forgot to remove the churning stick before leaving.
In conclusion, the pied bush chat is a small passerine bird found in many parts of tropical southern Asia. It is known for its black and white coloring, and is an insectivore. Its breeding season is mainly from February to August, and it builds its nest in a hole in a wall or similar site. It is also of cultural importance to the Toda people in the Nilgiris.
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