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All Pittas


Family: PITTIDAE

Pittas are a family of colourful, ground-living birds found from Africa to Australia. They are plump, short-tailed, long legged birds that hop around on the forest floor or in low vegetation, in search of invertebrates. They give simple, plaintive calls or whistles, some species calling from high in canopy.

Pittas nest in hollow, ball-like structures made of vegetation, often close to the ground. They fly with a rapid wing-beat when disturbed, keeping close to the forest floor, and in some species revealing conspicuous white wing flashes. Some species are migratory. Almost all species are beautifully coloured with rich blue, gold, red or green patterns.

Nine species are resident in the Greater Sundas. Two additional species visit as migrants.

Banded Pitta (Pitta guajana)

DPictureescription: Unmistakable, medium-size (22 cm), plump, golden-barred pitta. Black head with conspicuous broad yellow eyebrow diagnostic, back and wings brown with white wing bar; tail blue; chin white. Island races differ. Breast and flanks barred black and yellow in Borneo and Java; blue and orange in Sumatra. Java male has blue upper breast bar; Bornean race has blue lower breast patch; Sumatran race has blue belly and orange nape, also broader white wing bars. Females are all duller and more rufous.

Iris - brown; bill - black; feet - black.

Voice: loudish pa-oh, a high pieuw, or a soft, strident purrrr.

Distribution and status: In Borneo recorded in lowlands but mostly hills, from 500 to 1500 m; on both islands rather local.

Habits: Favours shady, primary or secondary forests where it hops quickly along the floor or along dead logs. Sometimes found in low bushes, salak, and rattan thickets. It is a shy bird sometimes seen dashing across a forest path but more often only heard. Sleeps in low vegetation, only 1 - 3 m above the ground.

Fairy Pitta (Pitta nympha)

PictureDescription: Medium-sized (20 cm), colourful pitta. As Blue-winged Pitta but with paler and greyer underparts, and sky blue wing and rump patches.

Iris - brown; bill - blackish; feet - blackish.

Voice: Similar to Blue-winged Pitta.

Distribution and status: Occassionally locally common up to 1000 m, particularly in north.

Habits: As Blue-winged Pitta.

Note: May be conspecific with Indian Pitta P. brachyura.