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Malayan Banded Pitta

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Is the Malayan Banded Pitta right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Banded Pitta

Scientific name: Pitta irena or Hydrornis irena

The basics:
The Malayan Banded Pitta is a beautiful but shy bird for aviary experts who need a species that spends much or all of its time on the ground. Because it's almost a pure insectivore, its diet is expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain. Therefore, we can only recommend this species to experienced aviculturists with plenty of time, space, and money.

Until recently, three different species of pitta were lumped together under the name Banded Pitta. This species, as the name hints, is found in Malaysia, Thailand, and Sumatra, Indonesia. There are two subspecies.

Appearance:
A chubby little stub-tailed bird that walks quite erect on the ground, all Banded Pittas catch the eye with their strikingly patterned heads and bright bodies. However, the male Malayan Banded Pitta is easy to identify because of its bold markings on its breast-- many small orange bands on the sides, transforming to many blue bands in the center. The Javan Banded Pitta male has yellow underparts with lots of fine black barring on the breast and belly. The Bornean Banded Pitta male has a similar yellow breast barred with black, but it also boasts a large blue belly patch. The females are like faded versions of their mates.

Weight:
150 grams (5 oz.)

Average size:
20- 23 centimeters (8 - 9 in.)

Lifespan:
10+ years

Behavior / temperament:
Malayan Banded Pittas walk on the ground or display on logs or low perches, which means that they can happily share the aviary with other birds that like to fly or display from high perches. It also means you should watch your step when you're strolling around their territory. Although they're peaceful toward noncompeting species, they may spar with other pittas. Plan to host only one pitta pair to an aviary.

Housing:
The pitta is a bird that likes to poke around on the ground in search of treasures like earthworms and snails. Therefore, it demands a planted aviary with clean, living soil-- not hard, compacted soil. Experts recommend adding a carpet of soft organic material like sphagnum moss or dead leaves to help keep their feet healthy.

If you plan to breed your pair, consider placing a mesh platform fairly low to the ground, as well as supplying lots of construction materials including palm fibers.

Diet:
While they may take a tiny number of edible berries, you must plan on feeding your Malayan Banded Pitta an almost exclusively carnivorous diet. Aviary birds have been taught to eat an insectivorous softbill crumble, especially if mixed with cooked egg and ground beef, but you should not deny the bird whole food protein treats like snails, earthworms, crickets, or even chopped pinkie mice.

Written by Elaine Radford

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