Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ABC Wednesday: P is for Pitta

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A male Banded Pitta (Pitta gujana), a species native to the Malay Peninsula.

Pittas are a family of birds first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1766. Most of them are about the size of a blackbird/American Robin, although there are smaller species.
They are forest dwellers who forage on the ground, looking for earthworms (a huge part of their diet) and other invertebrates. The method of finding prey is similar to that of a thrush: sweeping leaf litter aside and probing with their bill. Some species will also use stones as an anvil to smash open snails, also similar to thrushes.
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A Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida), a species common in Eastern Asia.

They are territorial birds and a pair will stay together to raise their chicks. Both sexes will incubate the eggs and will also both feed the chicks.
Pittas are popular cagebirds, but fairly hard to keep. They are quite often found in zoos, especially in zoos with walk-through aviaries. But due to their secretive lifestyle, they are often overlooked. I took the photo of the Banded Pitta at Hagenbecks Tierpark and of the Hooded Pitta at Burgers Zoo.

See what else P stand for with ABC Wednesday and more birds at World Bird Wednesday

Sources and further reading:
Wikipedia
Birdlife.org
Internet Bird Collection

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