Protective behaviour of a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

on 18th August 2010

At the Keledang Sayong Forest Reserve in Perak, Malaysia on 24th April 2010, Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS observed what he believes to be a maternal protective behaviour.

He was watching a female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum cruentatum) and a juvenile that was noisly begging for food. The adult was feeding it with the fruit of Melastoma malabathricum. The male was not around.

“As I was watching at eye level, from about 3-4 meters, the female stopped and flew straight at me, eye level,” recounted Amar. “There have been very few instances where birds have flown straight at me. It then flew past my head to settle just behind me to feed in some mistletoe. The juvenile did not follow.”

“I turned to watch at less than a meter. She continued to do this for about a minute. She seemed satisfied that my attention was now on her, and not the juvenile, then flew back to the original Melastoma plant to continue feeding the juvenile,” continued Amar. “I felt this behaviour was ‘protective parenting’ and decided the leave them without further disturbance/observation. I offer this observation as a possible mechanism by this flowerpecker to distract a potential threat from a juvenile.”

For an account of the Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and Melastome malabathricum as well as images of the bird and plant, please see HERE.

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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