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Tanimbar Corella’s eating behaviour

on 14th November 2009

In August 2009, Lim Poh Bee chanced upon a Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua goffini) chomping on the green fruits of the pong pong (Cerbera odollam) at Pasir Ris. Using one foot to cling tightly on to the perch, the bird uses the other foot to grasp the large, smooth fruit, its sharp claws getting a firm hold on the fruit. It then uses its strong sharp bill to take a few large bites before abandoning the fruit.

This introduced parrot has adapted well to its new environment, having found its food niche in the urban areas of Singapore. It regularly eats fruits that other animals avoid. The hard fruits of the pong pong is one of them, eaten when still green. Once they ripen, they become hard and fibrous.

The bird also takes the long, hard pods of the golden shower (Cassia fistula), perching on a nearby branch to chew on the pods or grasping the pod with both feet to take bites on it. This is an exotic roadside tree, planted for its attractive bunches of yellow flowers.

In the case of the starfruit (Averrhoa carambola), another exotic tree, it walks from branch to branch grasping one green fruit after another. It then brings the fruit to its bill where the seeds are extracted. The rest of the fruit is discarded, giving the impression that it is a wasteful eater. But the bird is a messy eater.

Image by Lim Poh Bee.

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

5 Responses

  1. Only the seeds are poisonous. Local schools, I am told, use the seeds to poison rats. The flesh around the seeds is apparently not poisonous.

  2. Pingback: cacatua

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