“On 16 Jan 2010, at Pasir Ris Park, a flock of Tanimbar Corellas was seen feasting on fallen sea almond (Terminalia catappa) fruits from the ground and seeds from the ripened pods of leucaena or petai jawa (Leucaena leucocephalia) a large shrub that is about 5 metres tall.
“The birds arrived in a flock, announcing their arrival with some loud screeching as they swooped down into the canopy of trees. Although Tanimbar Corellas have been seen in the area, there were usually two or three birds. A family of three Tanimbar Corellas was likely residing in the area. On this occasion, there were about ten birds, an unusually large flock.
“Initially, all the birds were in the trees foraging from branch to branch, sometimes screeching. After scrutinising the area, two birds swooped down onto the ground. Their crests were perked up as they walked on the ground, searching and picking up fruits of the sea almond from the ground with their claws (left). As the fruits looked weathered, they must have fallen from the trees and left lying on the ground for some time. Soon, the other birds were also seen swooping down. Similarly, they picked up fruits with their claws and were using their formidable beaks to crack them into halves to get at the seed inside.
“The sequence of images showed one of the birds using its strong hooked beaks with sharp ends cracking open a hard fruit (above left). Its tongue was then used to tuck the brightly-coloured seed into its mouth (above right). Nature is full of wonder: certain food is designed for only selected species with specialised tool (in this case the bird’s beak, which was shaped to crack nuts). Only these selected species, using their specialised tools could harvest such food. It is interesting and bewildering how the corellas could have knowledge about the edible seed that is hidden in the core and protected by the hard outer shell of the fruit.
“After a short feast of the sea almond fruits on the ground, the birds flew back en masse into the trees. Some birds were then seen clutching ripened pods from the petai jawa, which was growing wild nearby (above). Their claws and beaks were used to split the ripened pods before the seeds could be reached and eaten. To reach its choice pods, one of the birds was even seen clinging upside down as it reached for its chosen pod to feed on its seeds. Perhaps, the bird was showing off its capability of eating in this acrobatic stance.”
Kwong Wai Chong
21st January 2010
Note: One of the many reasons why this exotic corella is successful in Singapore is that it has found its food niche. All the recorded fruits it relishes are generally not eaten by other birds.