Animals

Pittas

by Marcia Malory

Pittas are passerines that can be found on tropical rainforest floors in Asia, Africa, Australia and South Pacific islands

Because of deforestation - the clearing of forests for agriculture and to produce lumber -  some species of pitta, including Gurney's pitta and the fairy pitta, are threatened with extinction. The trapping of birds for use as pets has also reduced the pitta population.

Pittas are shy, solitary birds.

They often have brightly colored, iridescent plumage. Therefore, a pitta is sometimes known as a jewel thrush.

Gurney's pitta;photo by SitronThey have medium-sized chunky bodies with short tails, long legs and long feet.

Their diet consists of invertebrates, such as earthworms, snails, insects and spiders.

Pittas will use logs or stones to break open snail shells.

They are diurnal (active during the day).

Fairy pitta; photo by AlnusMany pittas migrate.

They are monogamous and highly territorial.

Most species breed at the beginning of the rainy season.

They build dome-shaped nests in trees, shrubs or on the ground.

Both male and female build the nest and take care of the young.

Indian Pitta, photo by NidingpoothullyIndian Pitta

The Indian pitta breeds in the foothills of the Himalayas and in the hills of central India. It spends its winters in Sri Lanka and Southern India.

It eats small invertebrates that it finds in leaf litter.

The Indian pitta weaves its nest out of leaves, grass, bark and moss. The nest is located on a low tree branches or on the ground.

Because of its brilliant multi-colored plumage, the Indian pitta is sometimes called nine colors in India.