Saturday, August 7, 2010

Prelude: Wodit Quest in the Land Below the Wind

5 months ago at Professor F’s house in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

Prof F: Hei D. Don’t you have any idea for your Phd project?

Dency : about genetic population of yellow-vented bulbul? (Making a blur face & silent for a moment)

Prof F : You know what D, why don’t you study the “Biogeography of Magpie-Robins and Shamas in Borneo”. Don’t you know what are the Magpie-robins and Shamas?

Dency : No idea Sir.

Prof F : I tell you what D, we will have a very very serious discussion in my office next week. I’m gonna showing you pictures of the two birds & give some papers for you to read.

Dency : Ok...It’s a new project for me. Can I finish my phd project within three years. (My heart said “Oh my gosh, don’t give the hardest project for me to do. I want to go back to Sarawak as soon as possible....huhuhuhu”)

Prof F : I bet you can my dear Dency. Plan your works very well, sure you can make it less than 3 years.

August 4, 2010 in Inanam, Sabah.

It has been two months I’m in Sabah. Two months looking for magpie-robins and white-crowned shama. Dusun people call the Magpie-robins as “wodit kampong” while white-crowned shama as “wodit hutan”. Those two birds fascinated me so much. Both birds can sing very well and have attracted many people to keep them as their bird pets. Shama sings extraordinarily rich, melodious song with bubbly quality while Magpie-robins has powerful voice and sings varied song with series of plaintive whistles on different pitches. The Shama lives in secondary forests. It is not an easy job to keep the Shama. It must be captured when it still young (juvenile stage). During the growing process, the rarer will feed it with foods that are easy to find such as seeds and grains and teach it to sing very well. In some places in Malaysia, the shama owners will join a bird sing competition to show their skills in rearing their birds. As for the Magpie-robin, it can be found in coastal woodlands, mangroves, cultivated areas, villages, gardens and plantation. It is not considered as a favourite pet bird, but some of villagers in Borneo like to have them as their pets.

Magpie-robin in Sabah (Source: Joe Pan, 2005)

White-Crowned Shama (Source: Doug Wechsler/VIREO)

Why are these two different birds selected for my Phd project? The reasons are those two birds are categorized into many sub-species based on their morphologies (i.e. feather color). The Shama (Copsychus malabricus or abbreviation is C. m.) can be divided into two subspecies, the White-crowned Shama (C. m. stricklandii) and White-rumped Shama (C. m. suavis). A significant difference between both subspecies is the White-crowned Shama has white stripe over crown from upper forehead to nape while the White-rumped Shama lacks white on crown. As for distribution, the White-crowned Shama is a common resident Sabah while the White-rumped Shama can be found in Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan. However, ranges of both subspecies overlap in south West Sabah and far East Sarawak.

The Magpie-robins (Copyschus saularis) can be divided into three subspecies, C. s. musicus, C. s. adamsi, and C. s. pluto. The musicus has white belly and dark breast while the other two subspecies have breast and belly black. However, the difference between pluto and adamsi is adamsi has white tail but pluto has all tail black. The main objectives of my Phd project are to determine whether all subspecies of both birds are genetically different and whether the Magpie-robins in overlap areas are hybridized. Hence, I need to visit many places in Sabah and some of the areas that are not well known to outsiders. I went to Beufort-Klias, Pulau Tiga, Sipitang, Donggongon-Penampang, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu-Kudat, Pulau Banggi, Sandakan and Tawau. Each place has its own beauty and stories that I would like to share with you all in the next posts. Feel free to check new posts......

All sampling sites for the Sabah Trip 2010

Pst pst pst........

Rajin-rajin kitak semua ngecheck blog aku auk...yelah tek 2 bulan ku sik update. Dua bulan aku berjalan mencarik burung ngan makan, alu sik terkabe ku mok nulis crita-crita menarik. Tapi ku madah awal lok, post aku mengenai Sandakan akan polah kita beraik mata guguk luruh kedak ujan turun dari langit....Sabar ja kitak nunggu special post tok yang ku tujukan khas untuk kawan ku di Sandakan nun.....


Anonymous said...

magpie tok mcm penah nampak. sigek gik sik penah. camne study burung tok, tangkap pake net kah?

Globalized Dayung said...

Study ya nangga ya pun bulu & distribution aja...kerja ku sebenar nya nangga morphology & taburan genetik burung tok. Mun tok tau kita baca post Beufort-Klias: Where all are mixed up...

Anonymous said...

I have just added this post to facebook :)

Anonymous said...

Good evening

Can I link to this post please?

Globalized Dayung said...


Sure, if it's for goodness. There are so many things we all should learn from Bornean birds & its connection to the historical processes that make the Bornean Island as one of the endemic spots in the world beside Amazon Forest.

Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you