Greater Green Leafbird and others feeding on figs

posted in: Feeding strategy, Feeding-plants | 0

“A visit to the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Perak on 23rd August 2009 yielded interesting feeding behaviour of the Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati zosterops). The area is a bird watchers paradise but a bird photographer’s nightmare.

“I came across a noisy fruiting Ficus tree covered with 40-50 birds in a feeding frenzy. There were at least 30 different species of birds feeding together. I watched for three plus hours and tried to get some pictures. As usual did not use any flash to minimise disturbance.

“This young female Greater Green Leafbird allowed me close access to its feeding behaviour. Note the feeding composite image (above). After taking time to choose a ripe fig, it will take effort to crush it fully before swallowing. I suspect this is because it may have difficulty digesting the thick outer lining of the fig. Saw this repeatedly for all the figs she took.

“Wells (2007) states, and I quote, ‘working the soft contents loose, squeezing and tonguing these down and discarding the rind” but I saw the figs swallowed repeatedly after crushing.

“Some of the bulbul species and barbets I observed at this tree did not do so and swallowed the fig whole, like the Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos), Old-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon) and Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosus hayii). But the Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus) and Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima australis duvaucelii) also crushed the fig before consuming it.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
7th September 2009

All images by Amar-Singh HSS (Dato, Dr)

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