Birds and fruiting Ficus benjamina in Ipoh, Malaysia

“Tambun is a small town on the outskirts of Ipoh that has, in the past 10 years, been engulfed by the city. Now considered a suburban area with large properties and garden.

“Came across this sprawling Ficus benjamina that was fruiting extensively. Full of ‘common’ birds feeding together. There was some minor conflict, but generally enough food to keep everyone busy.

“I have grouped the birds seen over a two hour period into three groups as below:

“Birds seen feeding on Ficus benjamina ‘fruits’:
1. Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans): 4-6 (2-3 pairs) (above left).
2. Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis maculates): 10-12, 2-3 were juvenile feeding independently (above centre).
3. Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis strigata): a flock (more like a swarm) (above right).
4. Yellow Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier analis): 6-8 (mostly adult pairs) (below left).
5. Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala indica): 4-5, 3 were juvenile feeding independently (below centre).
6. Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata hodgsoni): one pair.
7. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius madoci) feeding on fallen ‘fruits’ – they forage on the ground and do not seem to pick ‘fruits’ off the tree.

“Birds suspected to feeding on Ficus benjamina ‘fruits’:
1. Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis tristis): one pair, seen checking out ‘fruits’ in tree, actual feeding not seen (above right).
2. Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica): one adult noted in tree but not seen feeding, flew off soon after I came.
3. Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata) – seen picking on old ‘fruits’ that had dropped on to the pavement below (below left).

“Birds using the Ficus benjamina ‘fruits’ feeding frenzy to get other animal prey:
1. Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia horizoptera) – one pair foraging for caterpillars (above centre).
2. Pied Triller (Lalage nigra striga) – one male foraging for animal prey (above right).”

[The above images show the Coppersmith Barbet’s feeding behaviour – pecking off a piece from a fig and then taking the remainder between its mandibles to squash it before swallowing.]

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Tambun, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
16th May 2010

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