Watching Rusty-naped Pitta: Thailand Birding


Pittas are one of the most sought-after group of birds in Thailand as well as one of the hardest to observe so it is always a special experience to see any of the species that occur here. Of all the Pittas in Thailand, Rusty-naped is one of the hardest to see when bird watching in the forest with it lurking down steep gullies in mountainous areas making it very hard to approach as well as not being particularly responsive to call playback. So, it was a real pleasure to be able to watch a pair of Rusty-naped Pittas this afternoon, at Doi Ang Kang, feeding out in the open at a distance of only a few feet away for more than half an hour.


Although in the shady forest the light was not very good for photography, this male Rusty-naped Pitta frequently stood motionless, allowing me to get good photos with very slow shutter speeds, as well as giving us time to study it in detail from every angle. Anyone who has been birding in Southeast Asia knows how hard it usually is to see Pittas, so that it was with constant disbelief that we sat so close to this one for so long; stakeout birding can produce some great results.


This front view really highlights the rich colour of the male and it is as a large, orange lump in the undergrowth that we first spotted it before it came out into the open. Under normal circumstances the view of this bird in the undergrowth would have been great, but this bird proved to be a real showman.


Such was the boldness of the male Pitta that when a large group of boisterous Silver-eared Mesias showed up he tried to chase them off and every time I tried to take a photo of the Mesias the Rusty-naped Pitta got in the way! Oh well.

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