Friday, 27 November 2015

MANTANANI ISLAND: In Search of the Philippines Megapode

The Philippines Megapode Bird (picture by The Sabah Society)
The real reason why we were on this island was because of this bird (above picture). THE SABAH SOCIETY who are responsible for protecting and preserving the natural, cultural and historical aspects of North Borneo sent us to this island to search, identify and peg the Megapode bird nests found all over the island using GPS coordinate. I wish to thank The Sabah Society for getting me involved in this project.

The Megapode nests (two pictures above)
Mantanani is the home to the Philippines Megapode birds. Megapode means "large foot" in Greek. It is also known as the Tabon Scrubfowl. It belongs to the Megapodiidae Family. Its natural habitats are the tropical or subtropical dry or lowland forests. Mantanani is quite dry and almost all flat. So the Megapode should be able to thrive here. The Megapode are also known as incubator bird or sometimes call the mount builders.

This bird is slightly bigger than chicken. It is considered solitary but do comes in pair to build their nest. The bird is considered an inefficient flyer and spent time foraging on the ground like most big birds. The bird build huge massive mount of either decaying vegetation or sand to cover its single egg because it doesn't use its body heat to incubate the egg. Instead, the rotting vegetation or the sand which is heated by the sun does the work for them. When I look at the mount, I wonder why does the Philippines Megapode take all the trouble to build their very big nest just to cover one egg. Once hatch, the chick are left to defend itself.

The Sabah Society undertake this project so that they can get a map of the nesting sites and to know the exact areas where the birds are. There are more than 300 of these mounts on this small island. As I say before in my previous posting, the island lack natural predators and thus this island became a paradise for birds including the Philippines Megapode. However, the threat comes not from the natural predators but from men themselves. The village elder told me that the locals will take the trouble to dig the nest just to get one of this egg! He told me he also don't understand why people likes to eat this egg because it taste so horrible!

A villager looking for the egg warily looking at us

The first English romance-thriller from Borneo
Search also THE EURASIANS by Don Peter ebook

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