Friday, September 16, 2011

Wana Kowulaspatiya - Ceylon Wood Shrike (Pondicerianus affinis)

The Ceylon Woodshrike is a nondescript, sparrow sized bird of mostly grey plumage. The male has a dark mask across the eye. A prominent feature which stands out in this drab plumage is a white rump bordered below with black upper tail coverts. The female is browner with a less prominent mask. The Wood Shrike is a common bird in the low country dry zone and ascends the hills to about 1200 metres especially on the dryer, eastern side. It is scarce and local in the wet zone.
It usually moves about in pairs frequenting scrub as well as large trees flitting about looking for the insects on which it feeds. The Wood Shrike generally avoids heavy forest. The bird would hardly be noticed if not for its distinctive, pleasant call which sounds like ‘ twee-twee-twee-twee, twy, twy, twy, twy ’ uttered rapidly on a descending scale.


The Ceylon Wood Shrike breeds during the early part of the year building a well camouflaged small cup like nest stuck to the top of a horizontal branch or in a fork between two smaller branches. The nest is very difficult to spot unless the sitting bird is seen as it is well covered on the outside with cobweb and flakes. The young too are obliteration coloured to resemble a lichen covered excrescence of a branch and are very difficult to spot. The nest is generally placed about 3 to 5 metres from ground level. The two to three eggs are buff or greenish white in ground colour blotched all over with purplish-grey and brown.


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