Macaranga bancana and sunbirds

on 6th November 2009

The fruits of the common mahang (Macaranga bancana), a smallish tree growing in Ipoh’s Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Perak, attracts four species of sunbirds. This was documented by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS on 21st and 24th October 2009 when he observed them making many feeding forays, and at times hovering in the air to pick off the seeds.

The Purple-naped sunbird (Hypogramma hypogrammicum nuchale), as with other pecies, takes nectar, insects and fruits. However, it has been reported that this species takes fruits in Borneo, not Peninsular Malaysia. Smythies (1999) records it taking fruits of Poikilospermum (Family Urticaceae), a scrambler that starts life as an epiphyte. Wells (2007) reports it taking small succulent berries and arillate seeds in Borneo, but not in Peninsular Malaysia. The current report of a pair of Purple-naped Sunbirds taking fruits of Macarange bancana (Family Euphorbiaceae) is apparently a first record (above left, male). (See also OBI database from Sabah HERE).

There was also a pair of Plain Sunbirds (Anthreptes simplex) repeatedly feeding on the fruits over a period of an hour and a half of observation, a male and a female (above right). Wells (2007) reports it taking arils of Acacia magnum seeds in Peninsular Malaysia and the fruits of Poikilospermum suaveolens in Borneo.

Red-throated Sunbirds (Anthreptes rhodolaemus) were similarly feeding on the fruits. This is a rare species. “Never seen it at this forest reserve before but delighted that it exists. Saw the female on the first day and the male on the second. Very hard to capture good images as they spent most of the time high up and are very shy,” says Amar. Wells (2007) reports it taking figs and Macarange sp. fruits.

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (Chalcoparia singalensis singalensis) – only the female was seen, but without images.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Perak, Malaysia
21-24th October 2009

Smythies, B. E., 1999. Birds of Borneo. Natural History Publications & The Sabah Society, Kota Kinabalu. (4th ed., revised). 853 pp.
2. Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.

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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