A family of Common Tailorbirds

on 16th September 2007


For a few weeks in July 2007 I was observing a single Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) visiting my starfruit tree (Averrhoa carambola). The bird would silently fly in during the late morning and flit from branch to branch gleaning insects, mainly ants. It would spend about five minutes in the tree before flying off.

The tailorbird had been absent for a few months since the failed nesting in my neighbour’s garden in March 2007. That nesting tragically ended when the adults abandoning the chicks (for whatever reason/s). As reported earlier, the chicks were found ‘mummified’ inside the nest about a month later.


Then on the evening (4.05 pm) of 4th August, I heard the sound of a fledging begging for food in the starfruit tree. The chiup-chiup-chiup was loud and consistent. On investigating, I found a few tiny birds moving around the tree, easily recognised as a family of Common Tailorbirds. The adults were silent and went about rapidly and confidently gleaning insects. (The image on the left appears to be an adult female.) One even flew down and foraged on the ground. One of the birds was a fledgling, perching on a branch, making begging calls and at the same time vibrating its wings.

There were one or two young juveniles about (top panel), not as helpless as the fledgling but clumsily went about catching ants. These juveniles moved about, but not as rapidly as the adults.

The birds were around for about 30 minutes before the family moved off to another tree.

YC Wee
September 2007

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.

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