Who robbed the coucals?

In Birds, Insects, Miscellaneous ramblings, Uncategorized on March 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

The culprit? Asian Giant Hornet queen.

We have a pair of Greater Coucals in the garden. They’ve tried many times to raise young, but without success.

For some reason they seem to favour a stand of Buddha bamboo right in front of the house. It should be ideal – the bamboo is very dense and although it won’t keep snakes out, it deters our cats.

But over the past few days Pen has come across three eggs on the ground below, breached and emptied.

One of the empty coucal eggs.

It’s a bit of a mystery. If a snake, say, or a rat had eaten the eggs, you’d expect to find nothing left. They’d be swallowed whole. But each of these eggs has a ragged hole that looks as though something might have nibbled it. One of them also has three pin-sized holes elsewhere in the shell.

The coucals seem to have given up on the nest.

We’re wondering whether the culprit may be our favourite insect – the Asian Giant Hornet. One of these has started on a nest in the same stand of bamboos. Do hornets eat birds’ eggs? I have no idea.

I have located an entomology professor at Chiang Mai University and sent off some pictures to him. If he responds I’ll repost.

Meanwhile, note to self: get rid of that hornet nest.

The hornet's next in the making. Very elegant, but far too close to the house. It has to go.

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