Nectar party at the saraca tree

on 2nd March 2009

“It is the time of the year again, when the saraca tree (Saraca sp.) starts to bloom in earnest. Flower buds seem to sprout from everywhere, from main branches to the usual places at the end of branches. When the flowers starts to open, a faint aroma fills the air, maybe this is the signal to the birds to start to gather at the nectar party that the tree has to offer.

“The party seems to start much later in the morning, when the sun warms up the tree, encouraging the flowers to secrete nectar in the flowers. This being evident when the birds start to congregate in greater numbers. This activity would continue throughout the day.

“The species of birds that gather are mainly sunbirds: Purple-throated (Nectariniua sperata) (above left), the Crimson (Aethopyga siparaja) (above right), Olive-backed (Cinnyris jugularis) (below left) and Brown-throated (Anthreptes malacensis) (below right). If anyone has spotted other sunbirds, they are welcome to add their comments to this article.

“As G. Sreedharan had mentioned earlier, and I quote:

“”I went by the saraca tree at Lower Pierce this evening and saw that 
the sunbirds were still actively feeding there. You can get good views 
of the male and female Crimson Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, Plain- 
throated (Brown-throated) Sunbird and the Purple-throated Sunbird. 
Interestingly, the Crimson will feed right down to the lowest levels 
whilst the Olive-backed rarely ventured below the mid level. The Plain-
throated and Purple-throated kept to the mid and upper levels though 
the latter were less likely to feed in the open.

““So it seems also that the birds also have their levels in their feeding habits, however this is not a hard and fast rule as some of the Purple-throated do come down to eye levels of the tree to feed, this being so when there are less people surrounding the tree.

““The odd bird that stood out from the crowd was the Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica), I managed to capture the evidence on camera, and my friend Ingo who was there verified it. So it must be there to feed on the numerous amount of insects, tiny insects taking advantage of the abundance of nectar.

““I believe the tree would continue to flower for another week…””

KC Tsang
21st February 2009

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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