Protective behaviour of a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

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.

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