Taew Laew Tong Dam
(The Gurney’s Pitta)
The Gurney’s Pitta, one of the rarest bird species on earth
In Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, there are around 318 species of birds. Among those species, the Gurney’s Pitta or Taew Laew Tong Dam called in Thai, can draw the most attention from visitors. The name of this bird commemorates the English ornithologist John Henry Gurney. The Gurney’s Pitta is close to extinction. Indeed, it was thought to be extinct for some time after 1952, until 1985 Radio BBC reported an ornithologist found a Gurney’s Pitta in an area of Khao Nor Chuchi, in Klongthom District, Krabi Province. The finding resulted in the establishment of the Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary and it is now a protected area for this bird species
This beautiful bird has a blue crown, a black face, a white throat, a yellow breast and a black belly. It has warm brown upperparts with a deep blue tail. The female has a brown crown and buff-whitish under parts with small black streaks. It is a medium-sized song bird, around 18.5-20.5 cm long. Gurney’s Pitta is rated as the 30th out of the most beautiful 50 birds in the world.
It is a ground-living bird, feeding on insect slugs and worms, especially earth worms. Its nest is usually found 1.5 – 6 meters above the ground on the Salacca palms and rattans.
The Gurney’s Pitta is found in southern Myanma and in Krabi’s lowland forest, Thailand. Its rarity has been caused by the almost total clearance of the natural forest. This extremely rare and spectacularly-colored bird was recently voted the “most wanted bird in Thailand” by visiting bird watchers. From a 2000 survey by the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), a British organization, there are around 12-20 Gurney’s Pitta couples living in the sanctuary.
Admission fee for the natural park is 20 Baht for a Thai adult, 10 Baht for a child, and 200 Baht for a foreigner adult, 100 Baht for a child.