The German naturalist Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller first described the blue-winged pitta in 1776. It forms a superspecies with the Indian pitta (P. brachyura), fairy pitta (P. nympha) and mangrove pitta (P. megarhyncha). Alternate common names include: lesser blue-winged pitta, the little blue-winged pitta, the Moluccan pitta, the brève à ailes bleues (French), the Kleine Blauflügelpitta (German) and the pita aliazul (Spanish).
Measuring 180 to 205 mm (7.1–8.1 in) in length, the blue-winged pitta has a black head with a buff-coloured supercilium, white chin and buff underparts. The shoulders and mantle are greenish, the wings are bright blue, and the vent is reddish. The bill is black, eyes are brown and the legs pale pink. It has a very short tail. Juveniles have similar patterned plumage but are duller. It resembles the mangrove pitta but can be distinguished by its shorter bill. The loud call has been transcribed as taew-laew taew-laew.
Distribution and habitat
P. moluccensis is regularly found in Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and has been found to be vagrant in Australia, Christmas Island, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Habitat is subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests.
The range is much of southeast Asia and Indochina, from central Myanmar east through Thailand and into peninsular Malaysia. P. moluccensis is a winter visitor to Borneo and Sumatra, and a vagrant to the Philippines and Java. It is a rare vagrant to the northwestern coast of Australia.
At breeding time, the blue-winged pitta builds a large nest, usually on the ground, made of twigs, roots, grasses, leaves and mosses. The spherical and untidy nest has a side entrance and is often found between tree roots near water. In its breeding range in peninsular Malaysia, the blue-winged pitta lays eggs between early May and late July each year. The female lays 4-6 white or cream-coloured eggs with purple markings, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs for 15-17 days.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Pitta moluccensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
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- Khor, Nelson. "Blue Winged Pitta Success Nesting". slideshow by Nelson Khor at pbase.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- DSC_8612 Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis). Flickr photo. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- DSC_8671Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis). Flickr photo. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- Hutchinson, Robert and Mears, Andy. "Extension of the breeding range of Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) in peninsular Malaysia" Forktail 22: 119–120 (2006). Article hosted at orientalbirdclub.org. Retrieved 27 August 2015.