Cat Tien National Park is renowned as one of Vietnam’s largest national parks, representing a pristine landscape with a diverse and abundant ecosystem, allowing wildlife and vegetation to flourish freely.
Moreover, Cat Tien National Park is recognized as the only place in Vietnam where one can witness wild animals such as Gaur (Bos gaurus), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor), Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), and various other species in their natural habitat. The park features a typical ecosystem of lowland tropical rainforest, showcasing a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including unique and rare species.
Cat Tien National Park (NP), located in the vast and lush plains of the Eastern Truong Son range, serves as a crucial repository of Earth’s genetic diversity. For Vietnamese people, it is a place where humanity harmonizes with nature, offering an opportunity for a positive change in lifestyle and, most importantly, lessons on the dynamics of tropical rainforests. For international visitors, this is a prime example of the efforts that this Asian country is putting into preserving its home.
With its pristine forest ecosystem, Cat Tien National Park boasts an immense biodiversity, hosting an impressive array of bird species, with around 380 recorded to date. Cat Tien has become a unique lowland bird area in southern Vietnam and is one of the three important bird areas, encompassing more than one-third of Vietnam’s total bird species.
In particular, we must mention the extraordinary diversity of Broadbill birds found here. These birds are a special treat for nature enthusiasts, especially those eager to catch a glimpse of them when visiting Cat Tien National Park. Join WANEE as we delve into and explore the fascinating world of broadbill birds in this remarkable sanctuary.
Overview of Broadbill Birds
Broadbills belong to the order Passeriformes, suborder Eurylaimi, and the family Eurylaimidae. There are four subfamilies of broadbills: Smithornithinae (typical distribution in Africa), Calyptomeninae (green broadbills in Asia), Eurylaiminae (diverse species distributed in Asia), and Pseudocalyptomeninae (Grauer’s broadbill). There are 9 genera and 14 species worldwide.
Broadbills are small to medium-sized birds with large heads, broad bills, big eyes, wide gapes, and often vividly colored plumage (green, red, blue, etc.), helping them blend into their surroundings. They range in body length from 11.5 to 30 cm and weigh between 43 and 117 g. The structure of their bills depends largely on the feeding habits of the species.
They are primarily forest-dwelling birds found in the tropical rainforests of Asia and Africa. Most broadbill species are insectivores, with some occasionally feeding on fruits. They catch insects in flight, pluck them from foliage or quickly snatch them from resting places, similar to flycatchers (family Muscicapidae).
They are opportunistic feeders, often consuming Orthoptera (Grasshoppers and Relatives), Coleoptera (beetles), Hemiptera (bugs and relatives), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, crickets, and ants), and Isoptera (termites). Occasionally, they also feed on Diplopoda (millipedes), Araneae (spiders), Gastropoda (Snails), Decapoda (Crabs), Anura (Tree Frogs), Sauria (Lizards), and Actinopterygii (Fish).
Fruit-eating broadbill species, despite not having the specialized insect-catching bills, still retain the broad, gaping bills. Due to this difference, they cannot easily manipulate fruits with their bills and therefore must consume relatively soft fruits or swallow the entire fruit. Figs are a preferred food source for fruit-eating broadbill species.
Broadbill Birds at Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien NP is the habitat of three broadbill bird species: the Red Broadbill, the Pink Broadbill, and the Black Broadbill. With its diverse landscape and rich biodiversity, Cat Tien National Park has become an ideal place to observe and study the behavior and ecology of these significant broadbill bird species.
Black and Red Broadbill
The Black and Red Broadbill, scientifically known as Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos, is a typical bird species in the broadbill family (Eurylaimidae). It is the only species in the genus Cymbirhynchus, with an average body size ranging from 21 to 24 cm, a wingspan of 9.7–10.8 cm, and a body weight of 51–65 g.
This large broadbill bird features distinctive black and red plumage. The lower body is chestnut-red, the upper body is black, the neck has a chestnut-red stripe, and there are white streaks on the wings. Notably, it has a large, shiny, two-toned bill—green and yellow. These unique characteristics make it easily distinguishable from other species within its distribution range.
The Black and Red Broadbills primarily forage individually, in pairs, or occasionally in small groups. Their main diet consists of insects such as ants, beetles, caterpillars, crickets, and other insects. As insect-eating broadbills, they have a bill structure that makes it challenging for them to consume fruits. However, on occasion, they may be observed eating fruits with large seeds, buds, and leaves.
Additionally, their diet includes small riverbank animals such as small fish, small crustaceans (Sheldon et al., 1992), and small crabs (Smythies, 1999).
During the breeding season (from April to July), they often choose to build nests in open areas with good light in the forest. They construct discreet, suspended nests. In Cat Tien National Park, you can easily spot their nests hanging from branches as you move through. During nest building, they use unique techniques, such as securing construction materials on the claw, creating a nest frame, etc. (Zubkova, 2017). They typically lay 2-3 eggs per breeding cycle.
The conservation status of the Black and Red Broadbill, as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN), is “Least Concern” (LC). However, the species is facing a decline in its population due to the gradual loss of its habitat caused by human activities such as agriculture and logging.
The Banded Broadbill, scientifically known as Eurylaimus javanicus, is a distinctive species of broadbill found in Southeast Asia and the Greater Sunda Islands. It is a medium-sized bird with a length ranging from 21.5 to 23 cm.
It features a head with a shiny reddish-purple color, transitioning to black at the edges and base of the beak. The chin, throat, and ear coverts are slightly lighter in color, with a black stripe across the throat. The top of the head is glossy purplish-black, transitioning to gray towards the back of the neck. The upper back is dark brown, mostly black, except for a yellow stripe in the middle.
The tail is dark black with white spots on the underside, while the lower tail is pale yellow with black and yellow patterns on the rump. The bill of the Banded Broadbill is a prominent, wide, hooked, and turquoise green, with a green or black border. The eye ring is green.
The Banded Broadbill can be easily mistaken for the Black-and-yellow Broadbill if not observed closely, but there are distinguishing features such as its larger size and the absence of white around the neck.
The Banded Broadbill has a diverse diet, including various invertebrates, small vertebrates, and fruits. Its primary food consists of insects like grasshoppers, butterflies, ants, beetles, and caterpillars. Occasionally, they may also consume small spiders, lizards, and frogs.
As primarily insectivorous broadbills, they rely on their specialized bill structure for insect consumption. However, at times, they will eat certain types of fruits, such as figs, often swallowing the entire fruit when feeding.
During the breeding season, mainly in the rainy season (from March to July), they often choose to build their nests on large branches or hanging structures that tend to lean downward. Their nest-building technique is similar to that of the Red-headed Broadbill, using primarily materials like thick grass, bamboo leaves, large leaves, and so on.
The conservation status of the Banded Broadbill, as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN), is “Least Concern” (LC). However, the species is facing a decline in its population due to the gradual loss of its habitat caused by human activities such as agriculture and logging.
The Dusky Broadbill, scientifically known as Corydon sumatranus, is a medium-sized bird with a body length ranging from 20 to 24 cm. It inhabits lowland rainforests, moist tropical or subtropical mountain forests near rivers and streams.
Its body is mostly covered in black plumage. The head is black, the throat to the chest is pale yellow and white. The bill is prominently red, with the upper mandible at the tip being bright green. The wings are light brown, and there is a small white patch on the primary feathers.
The Dusky Broadbill typically forages in pairs or occasionally solitary. Their primary diet consists of insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, and ants. Additionally, they may consume small crustaceans, spiders, and frogs.
Moreover, they supplement their diet with plant matter, especially fruits like figs. They have also been observed eating leaves and fruits with large seeds.
During the breeding season, Dusky Broadbills typically construct their nests in open and well-lit locations. Their nest-building technique is similar to that of the Black and Red Broadbill and Banded Broadbills. However, in terms of shape and size, their nests tend to be longer and bulkier.
The conservation status of the Dusky Broadbill, as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN), is “Least Concern” (LC). However, the species is facing a decline in its population due to the gradual loss of its habitat caused by human activities such as agriculture and logging.
Through this article, we have learned about three broadbill bird species in Cat Tien National Park. WANEE hopes that this information will be valuable to you on your journey to explore Cat Tien NP. Additionally, WANEE aims to increase awareness about the importance of protecting birds and the ecosystems they inhabit through the sharing of information and images. Together, let us take steps to safeguard the natural heritage encapsulated within Cat Tien National Park for current and future generations.
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