Monday, October 24, 2011

Striated Grassbird

Striated Grassbird

Most birds are specialists. There are birds that prefer beaches or mountains or forests. There are birds that only eat fish or insects or nectar. The same is true of the birds found in the village. There are the garden birds that have adapted to humans and make their homes in our gardens. These birds sip nectar from our flowering plants, peck at the fruit from our fruiting trees, pick at the insects in the yard, and even build nests in our bushes. They will even visit our birdbaths and become tame enough to be fed. There are the water birds that are usually found along the creeks in the village, and occasionally near a pond or even a swimming pool. These birds will focus most of their attention on hunting for food in the creek.

The Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris) is an interesting bird because as its name implies it is usually found in grasslands and rice fields. In the village, the equivalent of the grasslands are the vacant lots. You will not come across a Striated Grassbird in your back yard. Unless of course your back yard is covered in cogon and other wild grasses!

In vacant lots, the Striated Grassbird is an easy bird to see because it is fairly large and usually sits out in the open while calling out loudly. It is around 10 1/2 inches long. Its plumage is rather drab though, similar to a Eurasian Tree Sparrow's or maya's plumage. Its other distinctive features are the dark brown streaks or striations on its creamy white chest and its long tail. It also has streaks on its wings. In Pilipino, it is called turtoriyok or tirturyok. There is another, similar-looking grassbird found in the village. The Tawny Grassbird (Megaluris timoriensis) looks like the Striated Grassbird, except that it has a reddish brown crown and nape and a plain, un-streaked breast. However, it is much less common than the Striated Grassbird. The Tawny Grassbirds in the village were seen at the golf course, in the plantings of wild grasses there.

Vacant lots are not as vacant as they seem! Nor should they be dumping grounds for garbage. A vacant lot can be mini wildlife refuge filled with bird songs and life in the middle of a busy village. The Striated Grassbird is just one of many birds that have found their special niche in the vacant lots of our village.

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