Birds and chillies

on 26th February 2009

The image of a Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus) eating a piece of capsicum or chilli (Capsicum annuum) was taken in Belum, Malaysia. Howard Banwell kindly made it available to BESG..

Why birds and chillies? Well, on 9th February 2009, Sun Chong Hong wrote in response to a post on a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) swallowing figs whole.

“This brings back memory of my childhood. About forty, fifty years ago I noticed the ripened chili padi potted in our garden always went missing, while the pedicel and calyx remain attached to the plant. I always wondered who was the culprit that stole the fruit, until one day I saw a Yellow-vented Bulbul swallowing the ripened fruit whole, with its beak pointing upwards to the sky.”

Bulbuls are well known for taking these fiery hot chillies, especially the small chill padi.

Birds do have taste buds, but these are usually few in number. And these buds are not found on the tongue or at the tongue’s tip. They are usually on the roof of the mouth or deep in the oral cavity.

But then birds do not chew their food. They may manipulate it in their bill or tear off pieces, but then they swallow the pieces whole, without giving them time to taste it.

Image by Howard Banwell.

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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