The Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrysorrheum) shown here, deals with the soft berry of the Indian cherry tree (Muntingia calabura) in a unique manner. It picks up the ripe fruit from the tree, brings it to a perch where it begins to enjoy it (above). Instead of swallowing the soft berry whole, it crushes it with its mandibles to enjoy the sweet pulp (below). The soft skin of the berry is then discarded.
In doing this, the flowerpecker avoids taking in extra bulk and of course, extra weight. In this way it can enjoy more fruits. The juicy pulp of the fruits includes the many small seeds that are subsequently discarded through its other end some distance away. This benefits the plant as the bird effectively disperses the seeds.
Indian cherry spreads far and wide this way. It was once a common and popular wayside tree in Singapore, fast-growing and attracting much wildlife. But then the many birds that congregate when the tree is in fruits dirty the ground below, requiring extra efforts to clean up the area. So the tree is now put on the “hit list” of the relevant authorities. Indian cherry can now be seen mostly far from urban areas.
Input and Images by Ingo Waschkies.