Following observation was made in a moderately wooded suburban area in Piliyandala. On 24 June 2009 at around 10am, I observed a pair of Jungle Crows (Corvus levaillantii) perched on the branch of a mango tree feed on an unidentified object of moderate size. One of the crows was holding it by a leg and both birds were seen feeding on it. A few moments later, the object was dropped to the ground. When examined, it was clear that it was the skull of a Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica). The whiskers and bare facial skin were intact whereas the rest of the fleshy parts were absent. It was not difficult to recognise that the bird had been recently killed. The appearance of the beak and other parts suggested that the barbet was an adult. The surroundings were searched for any other remnants of the dead bird, but without success. Two other jungle crows were present in the vicinity at the time.
It is not clear whether the crows killed the barbet or if it was scavenged as carrion. Based on the condition of the skull, the barbet was probably a healthy individual; therefore accidental death while possible, is unlikely. Predatory attacks on the barbet cannot be ruled out although no predatory bird or mammal was observed in the vicinity.
Reported by C.D. Kaluthota