Barbet Coppersmith – new info from weird behaviour

It is true that looking at this pic. without a story there is no meaning at all.

I have been following this pair for the past 3 years near my backyard. In mid Dec. this pair was busy building a new nest during their courting period. Until today they are still excavating and enlarging the space from inside. Their nests are always very low. The lowest one was last year and it was less than 10 feet above ground level. This one is less than 15 feet and I can see what they are doing inside, even without looking through bins. I guess the nest should be ready anytime because I saw some weird behavior done by one of the adult [guess is male, while female resting near the nest].

I was observing the same pair of White-throated KF when this pair was flying and playing around the same field with some courtship displayed on flight. I was standing under a tree shade and this pair flew near to me and flies just above my head. Goodness, wonder they know I am there or not! One went back to the nest to start digging and throwing out saw dust. Then the weird behaviour distracted my full attention from the kingfisher to him. The male [I guess] was shaking his head vigorously from inside the nest. I thought he might be sneezing, ant bite or something that made him shaking his head nonstop. I check through the scope, but cannot see anything that made him doing such a weird behaviour. The sun was very hot and bright, this made me more difficult to see properly. I quickly captured few videos [rare captured on video] and on it on the PC to check again. First I still don’t find anything wrong, until when I saw something thin and long. I replayed many times and pause the video. Finally I realized all this tiny lines and drops are his saliva. The male will shake his head vigorously from inside the nest and sprinkle out his saliva all over the wall. Then he pushed his head out and more than half of his body is out from the nest sprinkling the entrance of the nest and outside near the nest too. He then crawled out from the nest and another weird behaviour happened again. He sprinkles his saliva at the nest entrance’s surface by shaking his bill nonstop from one side to another. I can even hear the beak banging side to side. After ‘polishing’ the entrance with his saliva, he went back to the nest and continued doing the same thing. If I have the chance to touch the nest, I think I can feel the wet saliva on it. The whole procedure took about 15 mins. Meanwhile female was still watching from nearby the nest.

7 rare videos have been captured for evidence.

I am wondering why he wants to sprinkle saliva inside and outside the nest? My guess is it could be something like a repellent to prevent insects, small mammals, lizards or ants to go in.


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