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Pittidae – Pittas

Sulawesi Pitta in Indonesia: Photo by Mike Hooper

The Pittidae, commonly known as pittas, are a family of colorful passerine birds found primarily in the forests and woodlands of Asia, Australasia, and Africa. Known for their vibrant plumage and robust build, pittas are often elusive but can be identified by their distinctive calls and frequent ground-dwelling behavior. Despite their striking appearance, many aspects of their ecology and behavior remain poorly understood, adding to the allure of these charismatic birds among birdwatchers and researchers alike.

Overview of Pittidae

Elusive gems hidden within the lush canopies of Asian forests, these dazzling songbirds exhibit some of nature’s most vivid hues, though their shy nature often keeps them veiled from casual observation. With a graceful bound along the forest floor, they meticulously sift through debris in search of sizable invertebrates, punctuating the air with their simple, yet melodious whistles or resonant calls. While much of their behavior remains veiled in mystery, some northern species embark on arduous long-distance migrations, while certain tropical counterparts exhibit tendencies toward altitudinal migration or nomadism. Within a covert, dome-shaped nest, typically nestled on or near the forest floor, a devoted pair diligently nurtures their dusky-plumed offspring.