On the tameness of birds

On the tameness of birds

The tolerance of wild birds vary greatly at species and individual levels. It certainly also depends on the conditions under which they are found.

The current winter has been prolonged and to some species it has proved to be harsh, so harsh that their
majority members must have flown further south. One example is Gray-headed flycatcher. None was
found at Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass area.

However, a Forest wagtail, which was considered rare in the Avifauna of HK, was found in the above-mentioned area this winter. When I first saw it, it was just feeding virtually beside me, just a few feet away. That morning was cold and wet. That reminds me the paramount principle of survival. Food takes top priority when hunger threatens life itself. When I next saw it some days later, the distance lengthened to a normal one.

The above finding extended to a Sanderling found on Po Toi beach. It was found desperately feeding
that one could approach it within ten feet.

The Red-headed bunting found at Lam Tsuen was again quite approachable for a few hours. It left
the area when I arrived at the place at about five. It showed caution and kept normal distance
when I and some other birders/photographers found it early next morning.

So tameness is not a safe 'wildness' indicator. Condition of plummage is, in my opinion, a much more reasonable one when expertly and objectively examined.

Remember, when birds first arrive, they must be hungry beyond human city-dwellers' imagination.

I witnessed the 'Tuen Mun' Roller's tolerance of us birders diminshed almost to nil after several hours
of rest and feeding and flew away within half-hour after my arrival at the site.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 1/03/2011 19:10 ]