Nests of spiderhunters

on 9th March 2008

Four species of spiderhunters are recorded for Singapore, of which Grey-breasted (Arachnothera affinis) and Spectacled (A. flavigaster) are now extinct. Thick-billed (A. crassirostris) and Yellow-eared (A. chrysogenys) are rare residents while Little (A. longirostra) is a common resident.

The spiderhunters build their nests on the undersurface of large leaves such as banana, ginger and aroids. The trough-shaped nest is anchored to the leaf with the help of plant fibres and cobwebs passed through many holes punctured through the leaf blade. Wells (2007) has described the nests of most species.

Ong Kiem Sian has documented the nest of the Long-billed and Spectacled Spiderhunters in her book, A Passion for Birds.


A Long-billed was photographer in the forest of Taman Negara, Malaysia, constructing its nest on the underside of a large banana leaf (above). The nesting materials of mainly dried plant materials are attached to the leaf through a number of holes on either side of the midrib with threads from spiders’ web. The web materials are teased into flattened blobs on the upperside of the lead as anchors.

Wells (2007) reports 76-84 holes spaced 2-3 cm apart on a banana leaf where a nest was attached. The actual nest is described as “a wide trough aligned along and below the support midrib, open at the drooping end of the leaf and closed off as a bulbous cup at the upper end…”

The arriving adults fly below the leaf and enters directly into the tunnel entrance.


The nest of the Spectacled Spiderhunter was taken at Panti Forest Reserve, Johor, Malaysia (above). It is a compact, thick-walled, basket-shaped nest made up of plant fibres. The nest is attached to the undersurface of a large, palmately lobed leaf with the aid of spiders’ web and/or plant fibres.

Morten Strange & YC Wee
March 2008

11148.jpg Images from the book “A Passion for Birds” courtesy of Ong Kiem Sian.

Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.

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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