Yellow-vented Bulbul’s reaction to chick’s death

posted in: Interspecific, Nesting-failed | 6

A pair of Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) nested in my Song of India (Dracaena reflexa) tree without my knowing it. Only when I half-sawed one of the four major upright stems and it collapsed did the chicks cried out and two adults suddenly appeared and scolded me.

Well, I managed to prop up the stem to allow the chicks to be brooded by the adults and things went on well for the next day or so. Then the nest was predated, possibly by a resident squirrel. Of the two chicks that were about a few days old, one disappeared, probably taken away by the predator. The other was on the ground below, dead.

The two adults were protective of this dead chick. They brought food regularly to feed it. An adult brought a fruit of the MacArthur palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii). When there was no response from the dead chick, it left the fruit by its side. They also brought insects, eating them when they failed feed the chick. The adults even prodded the body in an effort to get a response (above).

This went on the whole morning with the adults giving out soft cries, calling to the chick. At least one adult was around all the time.

A Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) approached the body and was vigorously chased away amidst loud cries by the adults. When a common treeshrew (Tupia glis) appeared and probed around the body, the two adults could only watch helplessly, scolding the animal until it left (above). According to R Subaraj, the treeshrew is a mainly insectivorous animal and was probably picking the ants on the body.

YC Wee
Singapore
August 2009

The full paper has just been published: Wee, Y. C., 2009. Observations on the behaviour of the yellow-vented bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier (Scopoli) in two instances of failed nesting. Nature in Singapore 2: 347-352.

A PDF can be downloaded HERE

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6 Responses

  1. Interesting behavior to observe, but so sad! Will the Yellow-vented Bulbuls try to raise another nest in the same season?

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  2. I would think so, especially in the tropics.

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  3. […] are here: Home … Lucanus cervus judaicus 85,8 mm. January 29, 2010 by Frank · Leave a …Bird Ecology Study Group Yellow-vented Bulbul’s reaction to …Contributed by YC Wee & R Subaraj. A pair of Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) … […]

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  4. Hi YC, I think the above picture is of a tree shrew, not a squirrel (eating the dead chick). Correct me if I’m wrong.

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  5. The squirrel probably predated the nest but the tree shrew ate the dead chick.

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  6. Ah, my apologies. Wrongly read.

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