Nesting behaviour of Yellow-vented Flowerpecker

posted in: Nesting, Nests | 0

“Took leave and went back to the fruiting climbing ficus (Ficus villosa) in the jungle…

“The Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrysorrheum chrysorrheum) was conspicuously absent today and did not come to feed. I spent 3 hours at this site and close to 9 am I noticed a slight movement in the tall tree behind the fruiting Ficus villosa. I tend to focus my camera on all movement, even if far, for record purposes. To my surprise I saw a small nest high up this tree – it was the Yellow-vented Flowerpecker entering its nest.

“I would never have ever noticed it except for that slight movement as it quite obscure.

“Wells (Dr. David R Wells. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Volume 2, 2007) states that the nesting of the Yellow-vented Flowerpecker has not been described in Thai-Malay Peninsula region.

“The nest is small structure; I estimate 1.25-1.4 times the size of the bird in height (i.e. about 12.5-14 cm) and slightly less in width (i.e. about 8-10 cm).

“Robson (Craig Robson, Field Guide to Birds of SE Asia, 2002) notes that the nest is oval shaped and suspended from a bush/tree branch up to 6 meters. In this instance the nest is at least at least 9-10 meters up, almost at the crown of the tree. It appears to be anchored partially to the vertical branch and smaller horizontal branches. It is oval with an opening at the top which is overshadowed by a small ‘roof’ which is hard to appreciate in the pictures. It appears to be made of fibrous material.

“I continued to watch intermittently for the next 2 hours. Alternating my attention between the nest and the ficus feeders. I noticed that in 2 hours the Yellow-vented Flowerpecker only left the nest twice that I am certain of. It must be incubating. Much of the time it would sit, with the head just showing. Occasionally the head would disappear further into the nest – possible checking up on eggs. However, twice I saw an odd behaviour that is illustrated in the composite (above) – the bird would stick the head out or tilt the head back and call out. Not sure if this was to call the mate to come and take over incubation.

“Went back to check on these nesting flowerpeckers [on 19th June]. I watched intermittently for 3 hours – intermittently as, although I am quite far away, they seemed very aware of my presence and I was keen not to disturb.

“Can now make some observations:

1. Both parents involved in caring for young – saw two episodes where they had a “shift change (above left).

2. I think at least one egg has hatched as there was more activity and more visits to the nest. I was unable to see prey brought despite attempting some video recording with the D90. But they are still incubating for long periods, so at least one egg has not hatched. Normal clutch 2-3 (Craig Robson 2002).

3. It was a hotter day and often saw them with mouths open to deal with the heat. The nest does get direct sun after 10 am (above right).

4. There were many periods of sitting on top of the nest or clinging near the entrance. Was unsure as to the reason for this behaviour (above centre).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
15th & 19th June 2010

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