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Gold-whiskered Barbet feeding on morinda

on 22nd September 2009

This is another feeding observation by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS but this time by the Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon) feeding on black morinda, also known as mengkudu daun kecil (Morinda elliptica) fruits. The location was the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve in Perak, Malaysia. It was on 12th September 2009.

“In my experience this is the friendliest of the barbets. Both the Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) and Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata hodgsoni) visit our garden daily but are relatively shy, the Lineated more than the Coppersmith.

“But the Gold-whiskered Barbet has allowed me many watching opportunities to observe its feeding habits, usually from 3-4 m distance, sometimes closer. It does not seem very disturbed by the camera as well.

“Generally I have seen the Gold-whiskered Barbet feed on figs but it was interesting to watch a group of four feeding on the morinda. And as far as I could make out, all four birds were adults. They meticulously searched the tree and devoured all the available ‘ripe’ ones. The fruit looks hard but watching them eat, it is obviously soft within.

“Once a fruit was selected, it was first crushed between the mandibles (above). The head of the bird swung side to side to enhance this activity. Once the fruit was sufficiently squashed, it was swallowed.”

This black morinda is named as such because the fruit, actually a compound fruiting head developing from many flowers, ripens black and lumpy (left). It is closely related to great morinda or mengkudu besar (M. citrifolia), the fruits of which gives you the health drink, noni. To make your own noni, you collect the ripe fruits, pack them inside a bottle and leave it out in the sun. The clear liquid that collects at the bottom of the bottle can be taken, a spoonful a day, if you believe in its curative properties. And if you can tolerate the putrid odour.

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

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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