Yellow-vented Bulbul: Drying after the rain?

on 20th August 2006

Lena Chow made an interesting observation on Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) at Aljunied Park, Singapore one day in June 2006:

“…after a heavy downpour they fly out of a spot in the treetop for about 2 metres and immediately fly back into the same spot, repeating this for quite a while. It’s quite a sight when a dozen or so bulbuls do this simultaneously, looks like a choreographed dance of sorts! I guess this must have something to do with drying themselves, but does anyone know if there’s anything more to this behaviour? The other birds in the park are nowhere to be seen at this time.”

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to say: “Most interesting observation. I cannot think of any other reason for this behaviour. You may be right in assuming that it has something to do with the drying process though we should continue observations on this ‘dance’ to see if there is more to it than meets the eye.”

Note: We need more observations by more birders before we can even try to understand this strange behaviour. So birders in the field, send in your observations.

Thank you, Lena, for this observation. Unfortunately we do not have an image of this aerial dance, so the above two have been provided by YC.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. I believe the bulbuls were simply warming their shivery and wet bodies more quickly with this sort of start-stop flight pattern. As with a car engine that heats up more quickly with start-stop city traffic compared to expressway cruising, I believe the bird’s body heats up faster with a start-stop flight pattern compared to leisurely long distance flying. Besides, wouldn’t the continuous breeze of cruise flying produce overall more wind than start-stop flights?

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