KC Tsang was at Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia on 16th February 2008 when he encountered a Long-tailed Sibia (Heterophasia picaoides) picking up snails (mollusc) and eating them (below). The sibia is a lower and upper montane forest species, uncommon below 1,200 metres altitude. The very long tail and white wing patch of this bird makes it easy to recognise in the field. It is abundant around this hill station, tame and occurs in small flocks moving around the forst canopy, the prominent long tail dangling behind.
The bird is a generalist, eating flower buds, fruits like berries and figs, insects like cicadas and swarming termites and small frogs. It has also been observed harvesting nectar from various flowers like silk-cotton (Bombax ceiba), coral tree (Erythrina spp.) and cherries (Prunus spp.).
The snail, tiny and slender, occurs among rotting wood in the forest floor. The sibia is eating it as a food as well as a calcium supplement. Note that it swallows the snail narrow end first (above and below).
Various snail species have been recorded eaten by different birds like Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) and Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii) [here]; Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) [here]; and Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda) [here].
Nesting birds need calcium for egg production and to feed the growing chicks
Strange, M. (2004). Birds of Fraser’s Hill: An illustrated guide and checklist. Nature’s Niche, Singapore.