“Whiskered Treeswifts: The Majestic Guardians of Southeast Asian Skies and the Need for Environmental Protection.”

The Hemiprocne comata, commonly known as the whiskered treeswift, belongs to the Hemiprocnidae family and is a type of bird. It is one of four species in the genus Hemiprocne and is found in several countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. This bird is the smallest among its genus.

This species can typically be found in areas such as subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, as well as mangrove forests and moist montane forests. It can be described as a medium-sized bird with distinct white “whiskers” above and below its eyes, a shaggy crest, and a deeply forked tail. Both male and female birds are similar in appearance, with the male having black lores and two elongated white “whiskers” above its eye that extend past the nape. The ear of the male is chestnut-colored, while the rest of its head, throat, tail, upper and underwing coverts, and primaries are a dark metallic blue. Each secondary feather has a large white spot on the inner web. The back to uppertail coverts, breast, and upper belly are a bronze olive color, while the lower belly and undertail coverts are white. The female lacks the chestnut-colored ear, and the immature plumage is unknown. The bill is black, the eye is dark brown, and the legs are purplish brown.

The Whiskered Treeswift prefers to live in forest environments and can often be found in small openings, like trails or streams. It is also known to follow the growth of vegetation up to the highest crowns in evergreen forests and tall mangroves. This bird species can be found in a variety of elevations, ranging from plains to slopes up to 1000-1100 meters. However, they are frequently spotted at altitudes below 800 meters in the Northern Malay Peninsula.

The Whiskered Treeswift has a widespread range across several regions of Southwest Asia including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Whiskered Treeswift has a diet consisting mainly of insects. It likes to hunt from elevated spots where it can sit upright and have a clear view of its surroundings. Its flight is very nimble, allowing it to chase after insects and small flying arthropods, even among the foliage but below the canopy. Its prey is usually caught while in flight, but it also takes food items while perched or by latching onto the tip of a small branch. Sometimes, it will make short bursts of flight close to the surface of the vegetation.

There is limited knowledge on the mating behaviors of Whiskered Treeswifts, however, it has been observed that the largest species engages in noisy soaring. Male birds may enhance their appearance through specific postures that accentuate their white stripes and chestnut patches on their ear-coverts. During the breeding season, the mating pair becomes territorial and remains in their nesting territory throughout the year. Whiskered Treeswifts are known for their agile flight capabilities due to their narrow, curved wings and long tail streamers which allow them to maneuver quickly.

The Whiskered Treeswift is a popular bird species that can be found in many areas within its range. Despite being adaptable to new environments, it is still threatened by the loss and deterioration of its natural habitats caused by deforestation. Despite these concerns, the species has been evaluated as Least Concern by Birdlife International.

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