Minivet birds
 
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family-Campephagidae

For those of you who have done Birding in Malaysia, we all agree that seeing a flock Minivets is always a welcoming sign. First of all, these are brightly colored birds, red for the male and female are in yellow are leaders in a bird waves, Of course the combined calls would also cheer up the moods. Birds which are classified under the main group of Campephagidae and birds that fall within this group and could be be sighted in Malaysia includes:-

 

5 Species of Cuckooshrikes

1 species of Pied triller

2 species of Flycatchershrikes

 

All birds, in the group have longish tails and feed mainly on insects on the canopy of the forest. At times when needed, they get down to the ground level. This habits of the birds, using the colorful Minivets as an example, are that they difficult birds to encounter or can only be seen at odd occasions. They are constantly on the move and usually not in some fixed location where we could expect them. Most of the bird have un exciting color but in plain white, black or grey and concealed by foliages where they use as hides.

Then in great contrast, there would be this group of Minivets in strong bright color. Almost all of them are red a\or yellow except one species having the expected white & black. The species as listed for Malaysia are these 4 species

 
Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus
Fiery Minivet Pericrocotus igneus
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus

and also the other 2 species that are not recorded as previously spotted in Malaysia

Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Small Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
   

In my years of outings, I have recorded these Minivets. The Ashy Minivets has the conventional pastel colors of white with grey which is against the norm for Minivet otheriwse all other Minivets, the males  are in brilliant red while the female in equally bright yellow. What a welcoming sight to meet up with them, the moment that we were always waiting for bird waves. The down sided is that they were always in the canopy level and their movements are always so swift and very brief perches,  way beyond the reaches of the common cameras.

 

 

1. Ashy Minivet  Pericrocotus divaricatus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 20 Cm Only seen during the migratory season. This is a slim bird that has looks like a Bee-eater. The upper part is dark gray , edges of wing feathers with white trim. The under part is white. Black lores and crown and a white fore-crown.

 Distribution :-  The bird breeds in south-eastern Siberia, north-eastern China, Korea, and Japan. It winters around Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland bird moving in flock from small of couple of birds to large group of 20 birds. In groups the birds would foraging in the level of middle storey to upper canopy of trees in forest edge or open fields.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird were seen often among the Acasia trees in Kiara Hills.
 
 My personal jottings :-

The Ashy Minivets are slightly less than 20 cm long. This is a bird from Siberia and areas in the northern part of China , Korea and Japan. They are wintering in Sumatra & Borneo. In recent years we are beginning to see good numbers in Malaysia.

This is a lowland bird of the Mangrove forest but seen more often in open parks and forest edge. They feed on fruits and seeds. One particular tree preferred was the Acacia Mangium which offers seeds. When seen, and over the next couple days, the birds would appear daily in groups of over 10 birds. Quickly seeking their food and moving along.

At other times, in woods with thicker vegetation, I had encountered the bird foraging as a pair. That time, the behavior of the birds were rather different. They would be perching and looking for food without rush, just like any other birds.

 

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-

 

 

female Ashy   # 1

Ashy Minivet  # 2

Ashy Minivet  # 3

Ashy Minivet  # 4

female Ashy  # 5

female Ashy  # 6

Ashy Minivet  # 7

Ashy Minivet  # 8

Ashy Minivet  # 9

Ashy Minivet  # 10

female Ashy  # 11

female Ashy  # 12

Ashy Minivet  # 17

Ashy Minivet  # 18

Ashy Minivet  # 19

Ashy Minivet  # 20

Ashy Minivet  # 21

Ashy Minivet  # 22

 

2. Fiery Minivet   Pericrocotus igneus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 15 Cm. Minivets all look alike and it is quite difficult to say "I would like to see a Fiery Minivet." For me, it's only upon analysis of the pictures taken, then I could say that this is the Fiery Minivet. So in the filed I could only say that the bird is fairly close in looks to the Scarlet Minivet which is completely red. Sadly, I can only use pictures for the female to demonstrate. The upper part is gray and the under part is a yellow throat and belly tinged in orange at the rear. A gray fore head with a orange-yellow patch from the forehead to eye.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird from Sumatra, Borneo and Palawan.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird that prefers dense forest bird in the lowland. again under this situation only can be seen at forest edges in those areas
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The pictures for this bird were taken in Rengit.
 
 My personal jottings :-

Fiery Minivets are small Minivets measuring about 15 cm long in reddish orange. The bird is from Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines.

This is a bird of the lowland forest and hardly seen in Malaysia. I had them in sight in Perdik as well as in Rengit, both sightings at the forest edge but next to extensive stretches deep jungle.

The bird looks very much the same as the common lowland Scarlet Minivet which is in bright red. But watch for the great differences in overall size, Fiery has that orangey type of red, smaller bills and missing the second patch on the wings behind the figure "7". For the female, the narrow colored band across the forehead is yellow towards orange as compared to other Minivets as yellow. It is not easy to make a guess in the field at that point of time, whether this is the larger Scarlet Minivet or the marginally smaller Fiery until the pictures are carefully examined at home.

I couldn't reproduce any photograph of the male as all my previous  encounters with this species were done in video. The stills made from these low grade video do not convey the right sense of color which is crucial for comparison.

 

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-
 

female Fiery Minivet  # 1

female Fiery Minivet  # 2

female Fiery Minivet  # 3

female Fiery Minivet  # 4

female Fiery Minivet  # 5

female Fiery Minivet  # 6

Fiery Minivet female  # 7

 Fiery Minivet  female # 8

 Fiery Minivet  juvenile # 9

Fiery Minivet  juvenile # 10

 Fiery Minivet  juvenile # 11

 Fiery Minivet  # 12

Fiery Minivet  # 16

 Fiery Minivet  # 17

 Fiery Minivet female # 18

Fiery Minivet  # 19

 Fiery Minivet  # 20

 Fiery Minivet  # 21

 

 

3a. Grey-chinned Minivet  Pericrocotus solaris rubrolimbatus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 18 Cm. The Grey-chinned Minivet is is perhaps the most common and also the easiest to meet up Minivet. They are at the forest edge and also appearing in the sub-montane environment. Typical of most Minivet, the males are red while the female is Yellow in color. So for the male, the upper part of this Minivet is described as glossy black with bright red on the lower back. The under part is red with tinge of orange. The head and mantle in dark grey, the lower side of head becomes lighter in color and at the chin and throat pale grey.

 Distribution :-  This bird resident in Nepal, Indian Sub-continent, South China, Sumatra and Borneo.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the sub-montane forest.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is common in all the hill resorts, particularly Frasers Hills and Awana.
 
 My personal jottings :-

The Grey chinned Minivets are about 18 cm long. They are conspicuous and sociable birds constantly calling and always willing to participate in a bird wave. In sub-montane environment like Awana and other resort areas, birders never miss seeing them. As all Minivets in this country have red for the male and yellow for the female, it is generally assume that all Minivets seen in the sub-montane are Grey-chinned and all those seen in the lowlands are Scarlet.

With digital cameras generating easy pictures, it makes ID much easier and we are able to see in our pace that these birds are grey throated. Then that traditional bright red broken by a dash of a reverse "7-up" sign on the wings.

Are you aware of the fact that there is actually another sub-species of Grey-chinned in this country. Also found in the sub-montane environment?

 

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-      
 

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 1

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 2

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 3

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 4

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 5

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 6

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 7

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 8

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 9

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 10

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 11

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 12

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 13

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 14

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 15

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 16

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 17

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 18

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 19

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 20

Grey-chinned Minivet  # 21

 

3b. Pericrocotus solaris montanus

 

Guided by the description given in Robson's book and browsing through the many pictures that I have with me, I am trying to make sense of the 2 different sub-species. Yes, the differences can be detected. Most of the pictures in this segment are taken in Old Pump Hose Road. Though the shades and brilliance of red and black are compromised with what the digital camera can report.

Guided by the pictures here, the red on the body in deeper red. The head is that dark is beginning to show some gloss and the ear covert and the throat which normally would be a band of dark gray is so blackish that the whole head is uniformly black. Though nothing much mentioned about the female, the last picture in this series shows a female caught with much richer colors.

 

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 1

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 2

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 3

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 4

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 5

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 6

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 7

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 8

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 9

 

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 13

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 14

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 15

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 16

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 17

Pericrocotus s. montanus  # 18

 

4.Long-tailed Minivet   Pericrocotus ethologus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 20 Cm. Now this is not one type of Minivet that one gets to meet up with often. On this odd occassion, I met up with a flock of them in Awana forest, mingling with a flock of Grey-chinned. Same as the Grey-chinned it has glossy back with bright red on the upper part and the under part is also bright red from breast to vent. For the female bird, I do not have an example on this page.

 Distribution :-  The bird is resident in the southern foothills of the Himalayas.
 Habitats & preferences:- Very little is known about the bird but I have got these pictures in the sub-montane environemnt in Awana
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- This species is not known to winter in Malaysia, but it is known to be a resident in Myamar and northern Thailand as well as winter visitor.
 
 My personal jottings :-

 The series of pictures taken were on a flock of birds. By description they have all the characteristic of the male from the bird having their first summer.. Here the bird have typical strong orange on the forehead, darker crown and mantle. Then a shade of orange to reddish orange from the rump to the upper tail. Also the the extensive deep or bright orange on the under part.

 

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-
 

Long-tailed Minivet  # 1

Long-tailedMinivet  # 2

Long-tailedMinivet  # 3

Long-tailed Minivet  # 4

Long-tailed Minivet  # 5

Long-tailed Minivet  # 6

Long-tailedMinivet  # 7

Long-tailed Minivet  # 8

Long-tailed Minivet  # 9

 

Long-tailed Minivet  # 13

Long-tailed Minivet  # 14

Long-tailed Minivet  # 15

Long-tailed Minivet  # 16

Long-tailed Minivet  # 17

Long-tailed Minivet  # 18

 

5.Scarlet Minivet   Pericrocotus flammeus xanthogaster

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 21 Cm. The Scarlet Minivet is fairly common bird in the dense lowland forest. If they are around it is rather4 easy to spot because of the male in bright red. But the sub-species that we have here in Malaysia though larger than the more common Grey-chinned but are smaller than those found elsewhere.  It has bright red plumage on the upper part as well as the under part Then this monotone only to be broken by the black on its back.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird from the Indian sub-continent, southern China, the Greater Sundas and the Philippines.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest bird and spends more time at the forest edges with path and roads.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is very common in the Ulu Langat area, but the area where the bird frequent must be within the deep forest areas with little human presence.
 
 My personal jottings :-

The Scarlet Minivets with length of over 20 cm could grow larger than the Grey-chinned, making them the largest Minivet we see in Malaysia.

The bird is from the Indian sub-continent, South China, Greater Sundas and the Philippines. We have 2 sub-species in Peninsula Malaysia, one - resident in the East Coast and another smaller one in size for the west coast. The scientific name I used for the heading refers to sub-species on the west coast. This is the bird of the lowland forest and appearing in forest edges.

There is no need to mention where the bird can be found as it is fairly common, except for a reminder that most Minivets are birds of the canopy. They could be passing through without being noticed, so sighting could be considered rare.

 

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-
 

Scarlet Minivet  # 1

Scarlet Minivet  # 2

Scarlet Minivet  # 3

Scarlet Minivet  # 4

Scarlet Minivet  # 5

Scarlet Minivet  # 6

Scarlet Minivet  # 7

Scarlet Minivet  # 8

Scarlet Minivet  # 9

Scarlet Minivet  # 10

Scarlet Minivet  # 11

Scarlet Minivet  # 12

Scarlet Minivet  # 13

Scarlet Minivet  # 14

Scarlet Minivet  # 15

Scarlet Minivet  # 16

Scarlet Minivet  # 17

Scarlet Minivet  # 18

Scarlet Minivet  # 19

Scarlet Minivet  # 20

Scarlet Minivet  # 21

 

6. Small Minivet  Pericrocotus cinamomeus separatus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 15 Cm. The Small Minivet is another  species of Minivet that one could hardly meet up with in Malaysia. Then why have I included it? My intention is record al those birds I have captured in malaysia and this species happens to be one of those. The bird has grey upper part with a reddish-orange rump while the  under part would be yellow with orange patches. The head side and covert in darker shade.

 Distribution :-  This bird is resident in the India sub-continent, Java and Bali
 Habitats & preferences:- I have met up with the birds in 2 sessions in the Old Pump House Road. This place is now out of bound. I cannot say whether any more appearances in this area these days.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- This is a lowland coastal swamp bird of the scrubs but it does moves up to the sub-montane areas. The bird has the tendency to gather in flocks.
 
 My personal jottings :-

Having the regular Grey-chinned Minivet dominating the scene in this sub-montane environment, the physical sight of another Minivet, smaller in size and color is  exciting.  This is the Small Minivet. It really appeared small at only 15 cm. long. This is a bird from an area of the Indian sub-continent, then Java and Bali. It is a lowland bird and mainly found in Mangrove forest. But the few times I saw the bird was at height up to 1,525 m high.

Both Craig Robson and Allen J. have no mention of this bird being seen in Malaysia. It's name is also not on the Bird List for Malaysia as prepared by Birdlife International. The bird is common in most South-east Asian countries and Malaysia is not one of them.

These pictures were taken in the Old Pump House Road and in Frasers Hill, both sites having sub-montane climate and with altitude around 1,400 m. and the birds, a few of them had gathered.

 

Record of bird's call:-    and Video:-
 

Small Minivet  # 1

Small Minivet  # 2

Small Minivet  # 3

Small Minivet   # 4

Small Minivet   # 5

Small Minivet  # 6

Small Minivet   # 7

Small Minivet  # 8

Small Minivet  # 9

Small Minivet  # 10

Small Minivet   # 11

Small Minivet  # 12

Small Minivet   # 13

Small Minivet    # 14

 

While all Minivets, red or yellow, look fairly alike and it becomes a daunting task to make an instant ID when meeting up with them in the field, But that apprehension need not be the situation.

Study the various species of Minivet carefully, understand the family's habitats. Once conversant with their habitats, at where you are you can almost be certain which type is likely to appear in the area. There is only one. Then the diagnostic sign to re-affirm what we already know.